Following the white supremacist and neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend, and the tragic death of anti-hate demonstrator Heather Heyer, killed by a car driven into the crowd, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) reaffirms its longstanding commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. The Association condemns xenophobic speech and actions and mourns Heyer’s grievous death. Hate speech and hate crimes such as these not only harm individuals, they terrorize entire communities and divide nations.
Research libraries and archives are bastions of free expression and inquiry. However, hate speech and other inflammatory rhetoric that incites violence or any actions that threaten our community members cannot be tolerated.
Racism, anti-Semitism, and bias in any form—whether based on ethnicity, nationality, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or other qualities—are antithetical to the mission of libraries to advance society by facilitating discovery, education, and innovation. The Association of Research Libraries and its members will do everything in their power to safeguard the dignity and safety of library patrons, in part by making it clear in words and deeds that we stand for diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.
The Association commends our colleagues at the University of Virginia (UVA) Library who ensured library spaces were available for community members seeking refuge, and who are leading an effort to document these horrifying events. Many UVA Library staff members were among those protesting the egregious acts of racism and violence. We salute our UVA peers for standing strong and for upholding the essential values and mission of our profession in the face of unspeakable hatred, intolerance, and violence.
“Libraries should never support, condone, or provide space to organizations or individuals who promote hatred, bigotry, and racism,” said Chris Bourg, ARL Diversity and Inclusion Committee chair and director of MIT Libraries. “At a time when white supremacists have been re-emboldened, libraries cannot hide behind a myth of neutrality. Reasonable people can have difficult conversations and can disagree about the best tactics for combatting racism; but there is no room in our institutions for the kind of rhetoric and actions on display by the white supremacists who marched on Charlottesville this weekend. We must condemn white supremacy in all its manifestations.”
For inspiration about how libraries and archives can promote equity and fight bias, see “ARL Library Statements and Signs Affirming Our Core Beliefs.”
About the Association of Research Libraries
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 123 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.