In observance of Memorial Day, the Library is closed Monday, May 31, 2021.
At Cook Memorial Library, we feel the urgency to live our values and support our community through the crises of today. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the inequalities of resources and the disparities of the impact have been exposed. Violence against Asians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders has increased across the nation and in Oregon. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many other Black people, and the following race riots and peaceful protests are felt in La Grande, too. As library staff, we want all community members to feel welcome, heard, supported, and to thrive. We are strengthening our convictions as an anti-racist organization.
As of spring 2021, we are continuing to provide library services to our community and we are preparing for a busy summer with a more robust opening of our building, including some in-person programming. While we are working on our procedures for safe workflows, we are also trying to better ourselves to be ready to open our doors to a community that is navigating multiple traumas and injustices. We stand with the American Library Association and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association against the systemic and systematic social injustices endured by Black people and people of color. We believe Black Lives Matter and we are dedicated to making positive changes in our community. We also stand with the Oregon Library Association (OLA), Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), REFORMA, and American Library Association (ALA) to condemn hate crimes and racist language towards the Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander communities.
We take our role in this community seriously as selectors of what books are available to read, what activities are open to all, what ideas get amplified and what voices are heard. Below are ways we are working to operationalize equity at Cook Memorial Library. We believe the work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility is the work of everyone. This work is ever evolving and is never done. We continue to stretch, grow, and set new goals.
We are guided by our mission to provide the resources and services needed to open doors to life-long learning; to fulfill citizens' information needs; and to offer and support cultural and recreational activities. We believe in constantly improving our skills as staff to best welcome and respect people from all backgrounds and walks of life.
We embrace the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights—adopted in 1939 and supplemented with modern interpretations to evolve with the times. We also acknowledge the historical legacy of unequal access that public libraries have in the United States and we are actively involved in rebuilding an equitable institution.
Here at Cook Memorial Library, we have been working on specific goals set out in our Edge Community Assessment, which measures technology accessibility in public libraries.
Collections: We select books and materials to create both windows to the world and mirrors to reflect our community’s own interests. Some examples of recent progress include:
We intentionally purchase materials from diverse and emerging authors. Our fiction collections - adult, young adult, and children - have transformed with these efforts, which continue on.
We have maintained a children's Spanish language collection and recognize the growing need to provide an adult Spanish-language collection. In recognition of this need, the Library has applied for a grant through the "Libros en Oregon" program; if this grant is not funded, the Library will, instead, devote a percentage of its annual book budget on acquiring adult Spanish-language materials. We also recognize the possible need for library materials that appeal to our local Asian and Pacific Islander communities; we plan to conduct a community study to identify which API languages we need to add to our collections.
Programs & Events: As the demographics in La Grande change, we are working to meet the community’s needs. In the past, the Library has offered a Spanish-language story time for children and their caregivers. In 2021, we will consider reinstituting this program as COVID restrictions are relaxed. In 2021, we will explore the possibility of presenting family and adult programs that focus on topics of race and social justice.
In 2021, the Library, in partnership with Eastern Oregon University, will begin offering GED tutoring and testing services in the Literacy Center. In Fall 2021, the Library and EOU hope to begin offering 1:1 academic tutoring for the local school district students (possibly in Spanish too).
We are making plans to reach out to the community for listening sessions on how we can best meet the needs of our diverse community. This will help inform the Library's new Strategic Plan for 2022-2025.
Spaces: The Library has been working on improving the accessibility and welcoming atmosphere of the physical facility and this website.
In Spring 2021, we installed a new self-checkout machine that has more space around it, making it easier to use for families and patrons using assistive devices.
A computer station with adaptive technology will be added in 2021. The large-type keyboard, larger default screen resolution, and track ball mouse will all help accommodate low vision and fine motor skills. In Spring 2021, the Library added an Assistive Technology toolkit that contains the following:
Staff Development: Staff trainings for all levels in the organization have included Diversity, Equity and inclusion topics.
Need help in another language? We have staff at the Library who can speak Spanish. Library card applications are available in Spanish too.
We recognize that we have much work to do and we will continue to push forward to ensure that Cook Memorial Library is an inclusive organization that provides library collections, programs, and services that meet the needs of ALL in our community.
Want to get involved or have a suggestion? Please contact Kip Roberson, Library Director, by email, or phone at 541.962.1339 x5, or stop by the Library.
As public library staff, we stand with American Library Association (ALA) and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) in condemning violence and racism toward Black people and people of color. We stand with ALA and BCALA against the systemic and systematic social injustices endured by Black people and people of color. We embrace anti-racism strategies in our work and are doing the work to become better allies. We also acknowledge the historical legacy of unequal access that public libraries have in the United States. We are dedicated to amplifying the diverse voices of our community and of Black authors and authors of color as we evolve in our mission at F. Maxine and Thomas W. Cook Memorial Library. We pledge to continue our commitment to providing a diverse collection of resources, safe and inclusive spaces, and timely educational opportunities that advance democracy, intellectual freedom, and racial equity.
As library staff, we stood with the Black Lives Matter movement to speak out against racism and violence toward the Black community, we now stand with the Oregon Library Association (OLA), Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), REFORMA, and American Library Association (ALA) to condemn hate crimes and racist language towards the Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander communities. These activities are also taking place in Oregon, and we remain unequivocally united against such despicable violence.
As part of the Oregon Library Association, we are actively committed to antiracist values. We look out for actions and policies that condone bigotry, systemic racism, and prejudicial misinformation and to do our part to eliminate them in library organizations and local communities. We actively support and protect Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities from discrimination and hateful actions and find ways to act (or serve) as allies to our colleagues across the state and country. All library workers are charged with the responsibility to report instances of bias and racism in support of our racially and socially marginalized communities.