The Evanston Public Library (EPL) has created a Racial Equity Task Force based on a recommendation from an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Assessment prepared last fall for EPL by DeEtta Jones and Associates, The task force is designed to represent the voices of people of color in the community as the Library continues to work toward becoming an equitable organization. The Task Force has met regularly since August 2019 and meets twice a month on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
The Racial Equity Task Force is made up of eight community members, all people of color. Some are educators who deal daily with the issues of equity and inclusion in the schools where they teach. Four Library staff members and two members of the Library Board of Trustees also serve on the task force.
The task force has begun by reviewing the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion assessment, and identifying barriers that exist across the community. A primary intention is to reach under-served residents, especially in the 5th, 8th, and 9th wards. On the Library's part, the goal is to own its portion of the institutional racism that exists in Evanston, which was acknowledged by this summer's resolution adopted unanimously by the Evanston City Council to affirm the City's commitment to end structural racism and achieve racial equity.
"We are listening to what the task force is telling us about how people of color perceive the library and its relevance to their day-to-day lives. Our growing understanding is that this community wants us to better understand their needs and tailor our efforts to meet them where they are. We are using their equity lens to help identify and break down the barriers that exist to provide greater access to those who need the most," says Assistant Library Director Teri Campbell. "We are excited by their willingness to brainstorm thoughts and ideas about how to become a more inclusive organization."
EPL intends to use the work of the task force to create a more welcoming atmosphere in the Library for those who may be uncomfortable within it, or to become more enticing for those who may not yet use Library services. The task force will also help determine how the Library can best present itself while working outside library walls in the broader community. The overall goal is to expand the library's reach in a way that is most sensitive to the issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
The member of the Racial Equity Task Force are:
Evanston Community Members
Jenna Arceneaux: Ward 5 resident
Juan Campoverde: Ward 9 resident
Nicholas Davis: Ward 2 resident
Tracy Fulce: Ward 2 resident
Joshua Hall: Ward 9 resident
Linnea Latimer: Ward 5 resident
Lisa Montgomery: Ward 3 resident
Amanda Richardson: Ward 4 resident
Evanston Public Library Board members:
Rachel Hayman: Ward 3 resident
Terry Soto: Ward 9 resident
Evanston Public Library Staff:
Carmen Francellno: Ward 5 resident
Lorena Neal: Ward 7 resident