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GELS: Growing Equitable Library Services

Resources related to the GELS series

The Racial Equity Institute (REI)

The Racial Equity Institute (REI) is an alliance of trainers, organizers, and institutional leaders working to create racially equitable systems by helping organizations develop tools to challenge patterns of power and grow equity. The Groundwater Institute - a partnership between REI and Impactive - assists leaders in the corporate, nonprofit and government sectors apply information gleaned from racial equity analysis for strategic action to impact change.

The groundwater metaphor is designed to help practitioners at all levels internalize the reality that we live in a racially structured society, and that is what causes racial inequity. The metaphor is based on three observations:

  1. Racial inequity looks the same across systems;

  2. Socio-economic difference does not explain the racial inequity; and,

  3. Inequities are caused by systems, regardless of people’s culture or behavior. (Source)

The below redacted, REI slides provide data-based information that shows the vast systemic inequity in everything from child welfare, education, juvenile justice, and more. According to REI racial inequity isn't caused by individual "bad decisions" or a bout of bad luck. Racial inequity is systemic and prevalent in all aspects of society on a massive scale. 

While the data available from REI doesn't specifically provide information that pertain to the working of public libraries, systemic inequity saturates all institutions. 

Race, Redlining, and Resistance: Libraries in the Making of the Next Civil Rights Movement

In the state of Connecticut, some of the richest people in America live a community away from some of the poorest people in America. In the fall of 2020, Tracie D. HallExecutive Director of the American Library Association, shared information and issued a call to action to the library residents of Connecticut via a presentation to the Black Caucus of the American Library Association- Connecticut Affiliate. Tracie takes listeners through information on:

  • Information poverty
  • Information redlining
  • Banning African Americans from public libraries
  • Libraries' role in inconsistent educational access

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