Confrontation is difficult for a lot of people. Confronting racism and talking about issues around race are very difficult. But the Hospital Library Caucus (HLC) leadership believes that we must speak out.
Only you can know what is right for your situation and the people in your life. But there are things that we can be doing to make our libraries better. For many, the hospital library might be the only place they feel like they can go and relax. Or a place where they can study without having to worry about the casual, racist comments people toss out every day.
But it might not be. And that’s something we can change. We can:
- acknowledge our own privileges and biases and try to work through them
- educate ourselves on racism and inequality and how to fight it
- look around and even talk to others, to see how the library could better serve its users of color
- make sure that users know the librarian is a person they can talk to without fear of judgment or retaliation
- disallow racist language in the library by calling it out and, if necessary, asking people to leave
Today, I encourage you to take a good hard look at yourself and your library. Do your users feel safe? Do your users know they have an ally in you? What can your library do better?
Hospital librarians have a unique opportunity to make a difference. Many of us, especially in small institutions, work directly with administration and educators. We can help to refocus the issues surrounding health disparities in regard to race, ethnicity, and gender. Many of us are getting ready to welcome new residents, fellows, and medical students into our institutions. What a perfect time to establish ourselves as someone who is always willing to listen and as leaders of a safe and inclusive space.
To our Black members and other members of color: The HLC leadership wants to hear from you on what we can be doing better when it comes to diversity, inclusion, and equity. We want you to know that we acknowledge your pain. We share your grief. We send you virtual hugs and elbow bumps and hope you know that we are here to listen and learn. To all our members who have experienced any form of racism, hate, or marginalization, we are here for you and want to hear from you as to how HLC can make a difference.
Based on a suggestion from the African American Medical Librarians Alliance Caucus, here are a few resources that may be helpful:
- Anti-Racism Resources
- Integrating Cultural Humility into Public Services Librarianship
- Talking About Race
- The 8 R’s of Talking About Race: How to Have Meaningful Conversations
- What is asset-based community development (ABCD)?
If you are unfamiliar with critical librarianship, now might be a good time to learn more:
- Critical Librarianship in Health Science Libraries: An Introduction
- critlib: Recommend Resources
- MLA’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force webinar series: Part I and Part II
- Putting Critical Information Literacy into Context: How and Why Librarians Adopt Critical Practices in Their Teaching
Wishing everyone the very best,
Elizabeth Laera, AHIP, Chair, Hospital Library Caucus