Living up to our commitments

By John Bracken, June 16, 2020.
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At DPLA our mission is to ensure equitable access to knowledge for all. Central to that mission is our commitment to ensuring that everyone’s stories are told. That grounding forms the basis of the statement our Board recently made re-committing ourselves to reject racism in all that we do. I want to share some of what we are doing now to live up to that commitment. 

  • Black Women’s Suffrage: For the past few months we’ve been building a collaborative archival collection focused on Black women’s activism from the 1850s to the 1960s. This summer we’re launching the collection, and partnering with a set of libraries and archives to digitize and highlight material in their collections. 
  • Curation: We’ve begun to discuss with a handful of organizations, in and outside of our Member Network, how we can best support the telling and preservation of the impact of COVID-19 on African American and Latinx communities. As laid out in our strategy, this work will be based on mutually beneficial collaboration, with an awareness both of the context of racism that underlies the current crisis and of the need to counter the exploitation and colonialism that too often accompany efforts like ours. 
  • Members Network: Last year, the DPLA Hubs Network Council set as its top priority a commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, access and social justice. This commitment, due to be finalized next month, will result in a more diverse Hubs community, more equitable collaborations and more representative collections.

Our name, especially the final two words, signifies both a promise of what is possible through collaboration, and a responsibility to acknowledge our nation’s legacies of exploitation, genocide, and white supremacy. Acknowledgement is a start; actions are what matter. We know that we need to do better and to do more, and we will. I hope that you will join us. Black Lives Matter.

To learn more about the work of DPLA we invite you to please join our next community board meeting on June 26th, featuring a conversation between ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall and MacArthur Foundation President John Palfrey on equity, access and the future of reading, as well an update on our work.