$3,000 Grant Will Help the Library Facilitate Discussions with Residents on Increasing Racial Equity and Inclusion

[SAYRE, PA] Sayre Public Library has been selected as one of 200 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities.

The competitive award comes with a $3,000 grant that will help the library cover the costs of hosting a series of community conversations on the topic of racial equity and inclusion.

“We are thrilled to be chosen for this amazing opportunity,” said Heather Manchester, library director. “After the troubling and divisive events nationwide in the past year, many communities are looking at ways to make an impact on a local level and help to ensure that all residents feel safe and welcome in the place where they live. This grant will allow our library to get to know and serve our population better and support individuals as they seek to educate themselves on historical and current racial injustices and lead their own efforts to find solutions to this long-standing problem.”

As part of the grant, Sayre Public Library staff members will take an online course in how to lead conversations, a skill vital to library work today. Staff will then host a series of conversations with residents that will guide participants through the process of understanding systemic racism and implicit bias. The conversations will be structured using the Harwood Institute’s Turning Outward model, with the ultimate goal of increasing antiracism efforts in the community.  Sayre Public Library will use the grant funds to purchase and provide books to conversation participants, bring in relevant guest speakers, and add books and other materials for all ages on the topic of racial equity and diversity to the library’s permanent rotating collection.

“Understanding how we can become more welcoming, inclusive and fair-minded is valuable knowledge that can be applied to many areas of our lives. Awareness and intentional rejection of racism are key components in building a diverse and enriched community and in our abilities to maintain long lasting friendships. We look forward to engaging in this unique opportunity of community learning and discussions,“ says Chris Eng of the Valley Anti-Racism Coalition.

If you are interested in getting involved or taking part in the conversation, please contact Heather Manchester, Director or Annie Caplan, Adult Services Librarian at 570-888-2256 or sayre.library@gmail.com, or visit the library website at www.sayrepl.org for more information.

More than 300 libraries applied for the grant, according to ALA.

Since 2014, ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative has re-imagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have utilized free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community and campus forums; take part in anti-violence activities; provide a space for residents to come together and discuss challenging topics; and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff.

“Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL).”

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