Columns Society members at University of Mississippi tell visitors about the Committee on History and Context plaque placed at Barnard Observatory.

What’s in a Building Name?

March 1, 2019

With the goal of reconciliation and justice, institutions across the US are increasingly undertaking formal measures to review who they’ve memorialized—evaluating names of buildings and monuments to determine connections to white supremacy and other forms of discrimination. Unsurprisingly, university librarians and archivists are finding a role in these discussions, providing historical materials on the buildings … Continue reading What’s in a Building Name?



Racial Equity Panel Addresses Bias in Library Work

January 28, 2019

Goodwin began by asking, “Why focus on race?” Infant mortality rates are 10 times higher for people of color than for their white counterparts, regardless of any other aspect of their identity. Race, zip code, and gender affect a person’s success across many arenas, such as education, health, and criminal justice. According to Goodwin, “Racial … Continue reading Racial Equity Panel Addresses Bias in Library Work



Natalia Fernández, associate professor at Oregon State University (OSU) and curator and archivist of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives in Corvallis, presents “Campus Connections to White Supremacy: Reconciliation through Community Engagement and Historical Research” at the third National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on September 27.

Renaming and Reconciling

September 29, 2018

“Building and place names do matter. They can be those institutional symbols of racism,” said Natalia Fernández, associate professor at Oregon State University (OSU) and curator and archivist of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives in Corvallis. “It can be very impactful, hurtful, and it’s important that we have these conversations.” In “Campus … Continue reading Renaming and Reconciling



Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in Charlottesville, Virginia (Photo: Billy Hathorn/Creative Commons license)

Charlottesville Violence Poses New Challenges for Libraries

August 18, 2017

Libraries at both the public and university level historically have developed response plans for natural disasters, but the Charlottesville demonstrations and similar white nationalist rallies planned for other cities have library administrators working not only to protect patrons and library infrastructure but to assist in relief efforts. Both the University of Florida and Texas A&M … Continue reading Charlottesville Violence Poses New Challenges for Libraries



An officer escorts five men from the Alexandria (Va.) Library in August 1939. They were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

“I Always Will Refuse”

June 1, 2017

August 21, 1939. Five African-American men—William “Buddy” Evans, Edward Gaddis, Morris L. Murray, Clarence “Buck” Strange, and Otis Lee Tucker—walk into the whites-only Alexandria (Va.) Library (now the Barrett branch library). Strange’s younger brother Bobby, 14, serves as lookout and courier. The men, who range in age from 18 to 22, ask for library cards … Continue reading “I Always Will Refuse”


The many faces of the librarian stereotype. Illustration: Rebecca Lomax and Vlada Young/Shutterstock

The Stereotype Stereotype

October 30, 2015

The answers lie in understanding the history of stereotypes in our profession and also in looking outside the profession to larger social conditions. We cannot separate our understanding of library stereotypes from the history of librarianship that influenced their development in the first place. Librarians are not explicitly responsible for the creation and perpetuation of … Continue reading The Stereotype Stereotype


John Lewis

John Lewis’s March

June 30, 2013

That was only one of many stories US Congressman John Lewis (D–Ga.) told a packed room of librarians during his Auditorium Speaker Series speech on Saturday afternoon. His deep, sonorous voice scarcely needed a microphone as he recounted his early years in the Civil Rights Movement—as one of the original Freedom Riders in 1960, as … Continue reading John Lewis’s March