UO Libraries' Statement on Racism and Systemic Inequalities

June 22, 2020

To our University of Oregon community:

The University of Oregon Libraries stands in solidarity with our Black students, faculty, and staff, as well as communities of color throughout our city, state, and nation. We have mourned the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others before them. The past few weeks have brought grief, fear, and anger, as we have witnessed the stark realities of structural racism and police brutality laid bare; but it has also brought moments of resolve and even hope as we have seen people in cities nationwide join together to confront injustice and to seek change. We recognize, however, that the racism and violence experienced daily by Black communities throughout the country extends back over centuries, not just one single week, and that to actively support justice and equity for Black lives requires more than one single statement.

At the UO Libraries, part of our mission is to enable “the creation and stewardship of knowledge.” Too often, libraries are thought to be neutral spaces, providing unbiased access to information of all types. The reality is that many biases, including racism and white supremacy, have shaped numerous aspects of the library environment, from which voices are considered authoritative enough to be amplified by scholarly publishing, to how research materials are described and organized in our catalog and on our shelves, to how we interact face-to-face with our patrons. We must also take action to disrupt these systemic inequalities. To start:

  • We commit to a review of our collections, in particular the databases and other e-resources that the library licenses, and will allocate additional funding to ensure marginalized voices are represented.
  •  We recognize the bias inherent in our infrastructure, notably in the White origins of the Library of Congress classifications and subject headings, and commit to allocating ongoing resources in personnel and money to identify and change them.
  • We will cover the Knight Library murals that contain racist content by October 1st.
  • We will work with UO Administration, Campus Planning, students, faculty and staff to find a way to deal with these objects of study and reminders of the history of racism in our state and at our institution without further need to confront our community with the associated trauma in a place that is meant to welcome us all.
  •  We commit to changing our recruitment and hiring practices, ensuring direct outreach to candidates of color. As part of that commitment, going forward we will require search advocates for every search committee.
  • Beginning now, we will work hard to create an environment that is welcoming to those future colleagues by creating a training and education process for all library staff that focuses on the work we need to do both individually and collectively to bring about an end to discrimination, implicit bias and institutionalized racism.

We recognize that these are only the first steps of a longer journey of committing to antiracism and social justice. We understand that solidarity with our Black and Brown colleagues and patrons is a starting point, not a finish line. We welcome this opportunity to grow as an institution and as individuals, so that the UO Libraries can become a place where all feel welcome, seen, and heard.

The staff of the University of Oregon Libraries

Related Library Resources

Untold Stories: The Hidden History of the University of Oregon

Anti-Racism: A Reading List and Research Guide

UO Libraries Resources for the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center

Diversity and Inclusion at the UO Libraries