As approved by the ARL Board of Directors on June 5, 2020
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) stands firmly with people throughout the world protesting police brutality and systemic oppression following the recent, brutal killings of Black Americans including George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. Against the backdrop of a health and financial crisis disproportionately affecting the Black community and other communities of color, these incidents further remind us that racism manifests in systems, policies, norms, practices, and behaviors that range from disadvantage to the loss of life and liberty within racialized and marginalized communities. ARL also acknowledges people of color working within our member institutions who are doing so in times of extraordinary stress and uncertainty.
It is incumbent upon leaders of libraries and archives to examine our institutions’ role in sustaining systems of inequity that have left Black communities and other people of color in the margins of every aspect of our profession. Moreover, we must work deliberately and intentionally to counter racist and oppressive systems that dehumanize communities of color and that create well-documented disparities in education, health, housing, employment, criminal justice, and every other structure of our society. As trusted sources of information and data, and as curators of the historical record, libraries and archives, and ARL, can facilitate learning and societal transformation through a number of means:
- Ensuring that material resources are procured and highlighted to chronicle the history of white supremacy, oppression of marginalized peoples, and the laws and policies that create systemic inequities
- Advocating for open government and other information policies so that incidents of police brutality and other oppressive tactics can be revealed, studied, and understood by scholars, researchers, and the general public
- Committing to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of employees who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)
- Investing in professional development of all staff in libraries and archives so that these phenomena are understood and so that authentically inclusive and equitable organizations can be built and can thrive
- Highlighting the work of theorists, educators, and scholars who have been studying and publishing about these phenomena for decades
- Developing and curating collections and other resources that represent the voices and expressions of BIPOC and other underrepresented communities
These are just some of the strategies that we can commit to, collectively, upholding our values of diversity, equity, and inclusivity within our professional communities. These strategies do not include the many things we can do as citizens to advance these lifesaving principles. We must intensify our efforts in order to recognize and acknowledge the contemporary manifestations of centuries of oppressive and discriminatory behavior of which these recent tragedies serve as the latest evidence. ARL and the library and archives profession must stand firm in our resolve to create a society that is truly equitable and inclusive, especially for BIPOC communities.
About the Association of Research Libraries
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.