U of I Library Commits to Acting Against Racism

Dear members of the University of Idaho community:

Like many of you, I have been deeply affected by the brutal murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and the protests that have transpired since those killings. These events have led to a moment of reckoning for our nation, and it is now clear that we as individuals must effect the change that is needed. To be silent, to not act, is to be complicit in the continuance of structures and systems that rely on violence and oppression to silence the voices of people of color.

Libraries have long prided themselves on being beneficent institutions that provide equal access to high-quality information resources, services, and spaces. As keepers of the cultural record, libraries hold a quiet power which, though often underestimated, is real. Our collections, and the ways we curate, disseminate, and interpret them, tell the stories of who we were, who we are, and who we aspire to be.

We, as those who are entrusted to care for and move our libraries forward, must come to terms with the ways that we have wielded that power. We must recognize that our collections and services are too often built upon a myopic worldview that is rooted in white supremacy and patriarchy. We must come to understand how we have contributed to and upheld systemic racism. We must accept that our collections do not tell everyone’s story.

Going forward, we will act to ensure that our collections change to reflect the experience of all people, not only those with power. We will act to ensure that our spaces and our services are welcoming to all people. We will act to become the force for good we have always aspired, but too often failed, to be. And we at the U of I Library commit to sustaining our action past this current moment, and to be accountable to our university community to make good on our promises.

As the Dean of the University of Idaho Libraries, I join President Scott Green in affirming that black lives matter, and that we must take action for lasting change. I hope you’ll join me in remembering what this moment feels like. It’s raw and it’s painful. As we move forward, please help us in making this a moment for real, positive change.

Ben Hunter
Dean, University Libraries
June, 2020