In June 2021, by a vote of 7-0, the San Francisco Public Library Commission took a bold step in adopting a racial equity resolution which will guide and influence our work now and into the future:
SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY COMMISSION RESOLUTION NO. 2021-02
Resolution affirming the San Francisco Public Library Commission’s commitment to racial equity and support of the San Francisco Public Library Racial Equity Action Plan.
WHEREAS, Addressing institutional racism across all levels of government requires leadership and political will; and,
WHEREAS, Anti-Black racism, historical ideas that Black people are inferior, laws to keep Black people oppressed such as segregation and over-policing which evolved from slave patrols continue to influence society and government policy and have been the foundation for racism toward other racial groups; and,
WHEREAS, San Francisco’s people of color and low-income residents have historically been, and continue to be, disproportionately experiencing income and wealth inequality, loss of home ownership, housing instability and overcrowding leading to less space dedicated to youth’s educational and recreational activities, worse health outcomes, and other impacts including lower literacy rates, digital inequities including access to technology and internet connectivity, which make a reliance on public services for their needs essential; and,
WHEREAS, San Francisco and other cities across the nation are part of a movement to eliminate institutional racism in partnership with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a national network dedicated to achieving racial equity and advancing opportunities for all; and,
WHEREAS, Under Mayor Ed Lee’s leadership, the City and County of San Francisco developed a Strategic Planning Framework in which racial equity and inclusion were identified as key priorities for all City operations and Departmental services; and,
WHEREAS, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission at its June 25, 2020 meeting declared anti-Black racism a human rights and public health crisis in San Francisco and called on City agencies to work with the Office of Racial Equity to disaggregate data by race and prioritize racial equity in all programs; train employees to understand antiBlack racism and how it affects individual and population health; acknowledge their complicity in these racist outcomes; work with and center the Black community to dismantle institutionalized racism in all internal policies and practices such as hiring, promotions, leadership appointments and funding; advocate for and support local, state, regional, and federal anti-racist policies that advance efforts to dismantle systemic racism in order to improve the lives of Black people; require community partners and stakeholders in the education, economic development, employment, housing, and criminal justice and safety arenas to recognize anti-Black racism as a public health crisis and to activate the above items; secure adequate resources to successfully accomplish the above activities; and create an anti-Black racism program evaluation 2 framework for all City departments and City grantees where the data must be produced at least every 2 years for the public as instructed by the legislation that created the Office of Racial Equity; and,
WHEREAS, The Library has committed to racial equity and inclusion in its own Strategic Priorities and commits to fostering equity by supporting communities most in need and is working with an intersectional approach so that all our initiatives are underpinned by a commitment to inclusiveness and accessibility; and,
WHEREAS, The Library’s partnership with GARE and San Francisco’s Office of Racial Equity has given staff the initial training, tools, and support to build the Library’s organizational capacity to advance racial equity in its programs, policies, and services; and,
WHEREAS, The Library has not always looked at service priorities through a racial equity lens, with a stratified branch system characterized by library buildings in affluent neighborhoods and store-front service in communities of color that offered less services; and,
WHEREAS, The Library understands this history and the need to be intentional about the implementation of policies to ensure that Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) people are being served and this involves examining all aspects of library service including materials, programming, and public services to make sure they do not perpetuate racial inequities; and,
WHEREAS, The Library and Library staff, in serving everyone in the community, recognize that this may require extra work, resources, attention, and outreach to historically marginalized communities, which include people of color, immigrants and those speaking languages other than English, and that true community service involves deliberate relationships with community; and,
WHEREAS, The Library reaffirms its intention in fair hiring, training, promotion and professional development practices to promote racial equity and a culture of belonging; and,
WHEREAS, The Library Commission is committed to addressing systemic inequities within the organization, the City and County of San Francisco and the broader Library community to improve outcomes for all; and,
WHEREAS, The Library Commission passed a Ramaytush Ohlone Land Acknowledgement on April 15, 2021 and has begun to establish a relationship with the Ramaytush to elevate American Indian knowledge, concerns and expertise through materials, public programming, exhibits and displays both at the library and digitally; and now therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED, That the Library Commission reaffirms its longstanding commitment to the principles of access and justice, where communities most impacted are prioritized; and affirms its commitment to racial equity by supporting efforts to integrate racial equity in all the Library’s programs, policies, and services; and be it,
FURTHER RESOLVED, That it shall be the policy of the Library Commission to support the Library’s efforts to develop and implement a Racial Equity Action Plan with measurable outcomes that will examine internal, administrative, and operational opportunities for advancing racial equity and ensure that all the Library’s programs, policies, and services are developed and delivered through a racial equity lens; and be it,
FURTHER RESOLVED, That it shall be the policy of the Library Commission to encourage the Library to work with other City agencies, cities across the Bay Area, regional agencies, state agencies, federal agencies and community stakeholders to participate in efforts to define historically underserved communities of color and lowincome communities and ensure that these communities have equitable access to funding, regulatory relief, and other services.
Racial Equity Action Plan
San Francisco Public Library must build a culture, space, and workplace that is accessible and welcoming to all current and future employees, and to actively build an environment in which all people, regardless of background, identity, or ability, can be equal participants. In this way, our staff at all organizational levels can reflect the communities we serve. The development of SFPL’s Racial Equity Action Plans will direct us to 1) assess current conditions in seven key focus areas for all employees, especially for Black, indigenous, and people of color, 2) to identify necessary staffing and resources, 3) to hold ourselves accountable by setting timely, measurable goals and commitments, 4) intentionally address interpersonal and institutional racism within our organization.
A safe, equitable workplace is an actively anti-racist workplace. Creating an inclusive workplace means aligning with the lived realities of people of color. The completion of SFPL’s Racial Equity Action Plan is a necessary step in this work.
San Francisco Public Library is one of more than 164 urban libraries across the country who have joined together to advance racial and social equity (PDF)