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Anti-Racism Actions at Tufts Libraries

In late June, the Tufts Libraries Council published a Statement of Solidarity and Commitment in support of community protests against police brutality and systemic racism. We pledged to discuss and commit to a set of actions demonstrating our commitment to antiracist values.  

The Tufts Libraries recognize our professional responsibility to work against injustice. We also recognize that we have much to learn about the long-term impacts of structural inequity, bias and racism that has been embedded in libraries over time. We intend to engage outside expertise to guide us as we educate ourselves as an organization, and work to right these wrongs.  

As values are expressed across all aspects of librarianship, the actions we are taking to build an antiracist culture span our work as well. We are reframing the elements of our everyday work with an antiracist lens, making perhaps small but steady shifts that collectively will produce needed change. 

  • We added Frugal Bookstore, a black-owned business, to our vendors. We are asking critical questions about our vendors’ practices. We continue to work with small businesses to find diverse content for our collections that highlight BIPOC artists and creators.  

  • We created and are promoting subject-focused antiracist research guides in Music and Health Sciences. We plan to work with academic departments this year to create others. Our antiracist reading list will continue to grow. Librarians will work with faculty and departments that are examining curriculum through an antiracist lens. 

  • Ginn Library has an ongoing project, working with Fletcher faculty to diversify the resources in their syllabi.  

  • We are addressing biased, discriminatory and racist language in our records. Digital Collections & Archives has a policy about Potentially Harmful Language in Archival Description, encouraging users to bring issues to attention. Our metadata team is working with the wider library community to replace biased subject headings for undocumented persons, and other harmful terms. We look for ways to correct biased legacy practices. 

  • Hirsh Health Sciences Library is looking into providing a dermatology database that includes images of a range of skin colors, something previously lacking in dermatology textbooks. 

  • Library staff at Hirsh are leading an anti-racism reading group that “hopes to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue in acknowledging the problem and understanding the impact of specifically anti-Black racism in the health sciences.” 

  • DCA has committed to a number of actions: continuing work on remediating harmful language in archival description; hiring student “roving archivists” to further develop relationships with student groups and to discuss strategies to create as full a record of Tufts as possible; and prioritizing digitizationdigital projects, and primary source instruction sessions documenting the experiences and voices of Black students at Tufts. Several DCA staff members are involved in efforts to support community efforts to document police violence, including Documenting the Now’s Archivists Supporting Activists initiative. 

  • Our librarians partner with the centers in the Division of Student Diversity & Inclusion. We have created exhibits to promote resources on topics of social justice and to amplify diverse authors and creators. We host student art exhibits highlighting these topics as well. 

  • We are reviewing our hiring practices in order to reduce bias and provide an equitable hiring experience for candidates. We ask candidates for library positions about their professional experience with issues of diversity and social justice. We aim to recruit colleagues who share our commitment to learning about and doing this work.  

  • The Tisch Cultural Competency Development team is gathering data to guide the planning of staff learning experiences in this area. 

 

We also seek to align our efforts with those of the university. Library staff are participating in school- and university-wide antiracist efforts at Tufts, such as the School of Arts & Sciences diversity strategic planning, Health Sciences campus workshops, and Tufts for Black Lives. We remain committed to understanding the experiences of our community more deeply, and to facilitating access to information that helps us effectively engage in the work of dismantling structural racism and social injustice.    

 

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