Statements on Racial Equity

Statement from San Francisco Public Library 

The San Francisco Public Library stands with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and supports all efforts to end the structural, systematic and institutional racism and inequality in our communities.  

As if living through a pandemic isn’t hard enough, the murder of George Floyd on the heels of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, is too much to bear, especially in light of reports that COVID-19 has impacted African Americans and our most vulnerable communities the most. Our hearts are heavy and we share the compounded pain and trauma many are experiencing in our city, in the country and the world. 

Public libraries have a unique and vital role to play in advancing equity and addressing racial divides. This means taking a closer look at our services and being honest about how our institution has failed to help advance racial equity.  

“Our black colleagues, neighbors and friends have spent lifetimes living with anxiety and uncertainty while too many leaders are silent and complicit” said Dr. Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi, president of the San Francisco Library Commission. “Now is the time for leaders everywhere to take a stand against racism and commit to doing the work to uncover their own biases, prejudices and anti-black behaviors that perpetuate structural and institutional racism.”  

Though the library remains closed, as we plan our re-opening, be assured our work will be centered on racial equity and we will continue the efforts we have already started under the direction of the citywide Office of Racial Equity. Prior to the shut-down library staff had begun to hold conversations on race and hosted forums for the public to learn more about how to have constructive conversations about race. We are anxious to start these again while at the same time doing the intentional work of examining our services and policies with racial equity in mind. In the meantime, we have been sharing recommendations on social media to help patrons educate themselves on the issues. Below is a list for your convenience. 

We are all responsible for this work and hope you will join us to help us foster a twenty-first century library built on inclusion, justice and mutual respect.  

Statement regarding recent violence targeting Asians and Asian Americans

We condemn the horrendous violence against Asians and Asian Americans in our communities, our state, and nationwide, both the reported and “invisible” crimes that have occurred. It is unconscionable for Asians and Asian Americans to be targeted for violence and murdered. It is unconscionable for our Asian elders to be harmed by these actions, and we stand with our Asian communities, neighbors, and colleagues distressed and hurt by these attacks. Asian communities’ demands for safety and respect are heard by us at the library. 

The Library is determined to work with our City and communities to recognize and dismantle the discrimination and violence that has been perpetrated. We acknowledge that these events are complicated by the entanglement of anti-Black and anti-Asian stereotypes in the reporting of these acts of violence. We acknowledge the reduction in humanity and harm done to the Black community by the coverage and hateful commentary that has been deployed. Anti-Black and Anti-Asian racism both uphold white supremacy. We are all harmed by these racist structures. 

We believe everyone has a stake in dismantling white supremacy in favor of a true multi-racial democracy. We firmly believe that a truly equitable society cannot exist until we dismantle all dimensions of racism. We must remain vigilant and continue to create a compassionate and welcoming environment that is inclusive of our staff, our patrons and the public.