We were appalled as we, along with the rest of the world, witnessed the violent and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. We recognize that libraries have historically been complicit in policies harmful to communities of color, including segregation in the context of the Jim Crow era South. However, GCPL is committed to addressing issues of inequity by providing a broad array of programs, outreach, and services to all citizens of Gwinnett County regardless of race, creed, national origin, or sexual orientation. As an organization of learning, the Gwinnett County Public Library is committed to building a more educated, informed, and tolerant community.
We agree with the New York Public Library: “that everyone can learn and contribute, and deserves to be treated with respect. In learning about others we learn about ourselves and hopefully find ways to live together, to embrace and better understand each other.” We all have a responsibility to actively participate in our democracy as informed citizens and the public library provides an excellent forum for that education to take place.
Here are a few ways the Gwinnett County Public Library proudly serves the Black community in Gwinnett:
- We work to bridge the digital divide with access to technology, connectivity, and free learning. The library offers free WiFi both inside and outside of our branches. In addition, we circulate WiFi hotspots to the community.
- We strive to offer universal access to all school-aged children through our partnership with local schools and our Branch Out program. Over 180,000 students are able to use their school ID cards as library cards to gain access to all of the library’s physical and digital resources.
- We offer educational resources, including the opportunity to earn an accredited High School diploma, at no cost, through our Career Online High School program.
- We collect a diverse array of books and materials. The library’s staff-led African American Task Force has worked to increase the breadth of our collection.
- We strongly support career and entrepreneurial development through virtual and in-person programs, digital resources, and materials.
- We offer African American genealogy workshops to teach everyone how to find their African American ancestors.
Educating ourselves further about the legacy of racial injustice in this country is key to an informed and engaged citizenry. To that end, we commit to hosting more black author events year round, not just during Black History Month. We commit to hosting open dialogues on the difficult issues we all face. And, we commit to work continuously to further diversify our membership and staff.
The Gwinnett County Public Library is committed to promoting access and enabling learning for all people. We pledge to offer every book, resource, program, and collection that we can; welcome and serve everyone equitably; and encourage all to respect one another, learn together and from each other.