Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow by Cheryl Knott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a very disturbing book. I read it because of a tweet from @Tuphlos. This is a book, wherever you work in the world, if you work in libraries, you need to read it. It is important history for one location, but it highlights ongoing issues for libraries around the world. It demonstrates that saying your library is welcoming and inclusive are a long way from your library actually being welcoming and inclusive. It also shows the need for effective outreach so that people who aren't using the library know about what it can do for them.
While this book shows legal barriers - segregation - to library use, make sure there are not other barriers in your area. This is a disturbing and important book to read. There was one sentence which highlighted problems "Most [libraries] who reported some move towards total desegregation also acknowledged that African Americans had not been told of these policy changes". Do you ever change something but don't tell the clients about it? Also "Libraries continued to restrict use to whites only...almost 2 million southern blacks lived in areas with public libraries that refused them service". This book continually demonstrated the need for a diverse collection and diverse staff - no excuses.
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