Monona Public Library has delayed its community-wide read on antiracism.
The library planned to use a $3,000 grant from the American Library Association (ALA) to fund the program this fall, but library staff have announced that the initiative will be postponed due to a local rise in COVID-19 cases.
“With the Delta variant spreading rapidly, we have decided that it is best for us to postpone this program until May of 2022,” said Tiffany Helgerson, the library’s youth services coordinator.
Helgerson said the plan is to use the ALA grant funds to purchase several copies of three books on anti-racism, each one for different age groups of readers.
Books chosen for the program include “How to Be an Antiracist,” for adults, by Ibram X. Kendi, “This Book is Anti-racist,” for teens, by Tiffany Jewell and “Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race,” for children, by Jessica Ralli and Megan Madison.
The library will be working with “several community partners,” including the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development, to provide inclusive guidance and insight for readers throughout the reading project, Helgerson said.
Despite a delay in the program, though, library staff said it “does not mean we are halting discussions about antiracism until May.”
“We know antiracist conversations and action needs to happen in Monona,” said Helgerson. “This fall we will still offer programs that will provide context for the importance of antiracism as a practice in our community.”
She said the library will also be working internally to combat racism in its policies and procedures.
“COVID-19 is not the only public health crisis we are experiencing,” Helgerson said. “Racism has been declared a public health crisis in Wisconsin since 2018, and we know that it has been for hundreds of years, [so] let’s keep working together to make our community a safe and inclusive space for all.”