Director's Update, June 5, 2020

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Dear Cambridge Community,

This has been a challenging time. The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor show us that we still have so much work to do to face systemic, institutional and individual racism. Some recent featured speakers before we closed our doors to COVID-19 included Elizabeth Hinton, who taught us about the history of structural racism in the United States and Robin DiAngelo, who challenged White folks to confront their own racism and white fragility. 

I know that we may read important works by authors Michelle Alexander, Ijeoma Oluo, Cornel West, Ta-Nahesi Coates and Richard Rothstein and then fall back into the rush of the day, weeks, months. I know that it is meaningful to participate in equity, diversity and inclusion work, such as the City’s work on equity and inclusion, and then to sometimes forget to consciously live those commitments every day. I know that many of you, especially Black neighbors and colleagues, are in pain from the continued brutality against Black Lives.

Tracie D. Hall, President of the American Library Association, recently posted to social media this profound quote made by the civil rights activist Ella Baker in 1964: “Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as a white mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.” Fifty-six years later— what can we do, what should we do to actively, consciously, wholeheartedly confront systemic and individual racism?

Drawing on the equity and inclusion work of many of our library staff, we have put together reading lists, both for adults and youth, that you may consider for yourself and your families as part of broadening our collective understanding of racism. Others have put together suggested readings, including Dr. Nicole A. Cooke, the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair at the University of South Carolina, who created a list of Anti Racism Resources for All Ages.

I want to thank Trevor A. Dawes, Vice Provost for Libraries and Museums and May Morris University Librarian at the University of Delaware, for sharing Dr. Cooke’s list as well as the National Museum of African American History’s guide to talking about race. I challenge all of us to read these or other books about racism, to discuss them and to actively, consciously, wholeheartedly do what we can to confront racism including racist policies, structures and practices. 

June is also Pride Month, a time to pause and celebrate the LGBTQ community, acknowledge its struggles, and recognize its achievements. Hopefully we as the community of Cambridge, do this every day. Join us for a special virtual Pride event on Monday, June 15 at 7:00 pm featuring Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown, authors of We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation. Riemer and Brown are also the creators and curators behind the popular Instagram account @lgbt_history. Joan Ilacqua, Executive Director of The History Project, will moderate. Registration is required.

On Saturday, June 20, children and their grown-ups are invited to join us for a special Virtual Story Time with Drag Kings, Queens, and Friends. Registration is required and will open next week- stay tuned!

We are also virtually hosting Portraiture in Photography with Leonie Marinovich on June 17, from 6-8 p.m. Ms. Marinovich is a documentary photographer and filmmaker originally from South Africa, now based in Cambridge. The program will focus on the nature of portraits, and then after a short break, participants will do some practical work to improve their own photos. Registration is required.

Our Community Flow Yoga program also begins this Sunday, June 7 at 10 a.m. and continues every Sunday in June. Instructor Rachael Junard is a Boston-based wellness educator and yoga instructor. This community class is for all levels and centers on stretching the body and grounding the mind. Registration is required.

We also have updated our Library COVID-19 FAQ with reopening information. The book drop at the Main Library will open to returns on Monday, June 8. We are also preparing to pilot a contactless holds pickup service, beginning June 16. We will be fulfilling backlogged holds first and will reach out to those patrons who had holds ready for pickup in March. More information to come very soon.


Maria McCauley
Director, Cambridge Public Library
Page was posted on 6/5/2020 11:16 AM
Page was last modified on 6/5/2020 2:42 PM
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