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Library Working To Build Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion ‘Bridges’



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Programs and efforts are underway at C.H. Booth Library that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) thanks to the supported efforts of library staff and a Board of Trustees DEI Special Committee.

In a February 24 virtual meeting, members of the committee discussed library events and initiatives related to the topic.

Library Director Douglas Lord shared updates on “internal and outward” things he is proud of, like the library’s dual focus on staff professional development and continuing education opportunities, along with ongoing programs for the community.

“I really feel as though this library is doing pretty darn good for something that only began in November,” Lord said of the drive to focus on DEI initiatives.

Speaking about the library staff’s ongoing DEI educational staff experiences, Lord offered hope that they will allow employees to approach the subject matter as individuals while helping the library generate ideas in an “intentional way.”

“We want to make sure we are doing everything respectfully, correctly, and in the right way,” said Lord.

He noted a number of upcoming programs for the public that will be hosted by the library that all stem from DEI related topics.

In other meeting discussion, Lord brought up the library building’s particular layout — both the original section of the building and the newer addition — and how it affects the staff’s ability to create focal points of interest. Lord said the objective is for the library to be more welcoming and celebratory of diverse cultures. Thought will be given to how things are displayed, like the books, films, and other materials. While the full effort is expected to take time, Lord said the library staff members are smart and motivated people.

Members of the DEI Special Committee, which is chaired by Dana Flynn, offered input and asked Lord questions about the ongoing efforts. Discussion included responding to community feedback, interacting with other local libraries to share ideas, working with town representatives and organizations, and potential future programming.

“As a librarian, my goal is to create bridges,” Lord said about involving local groups in the library’s DEI efforts.

Flynn and other committee members also brought up a recent statement approved by the group and posted to the library’s website at chboothlibrary.org/statement-of-chbl. Committee member Betsy Litt voiced her approval of the statement and said she feels Lord is “infusing it... throughout the library.”

The statement follows.

The C.H. Booth Library strives to be an institution and building where Newtown patrons, including every race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, tenure in town, education level, and socioeconomic class, feel seen, valued, safe, and well-served.

We commit to:

Continuing to learn and grow through consistent and ongoing training in diversity, equity, and inclusion;

Adopting inclusive language in all written, oral, and electronic communications;

Expanding the diversity of the staff and Board of Trustees;

Ensuring all organizational leadership, staff, and volunteers embrace the values of mutual respect and dignity for all persons;

Expanding the diversity of collections, programs, and exhibits;

Convening and facilitating conversations and partnerships in service of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and

Monitoring our progress.

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