PACSCL Statement on Concerned Black Workers of the Free Library of Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) stands in solidarity with the Concerned Black Workers of the Free Library of Philadelphia (CBWFLP) and supports their demands for a safe and equitable work environment. Black Lives Matter. The concerns of Black workers of the FLP need immediate attention and merit decisive action.

We urge Free Library leadership, Mayor of Philadelphia Jim Kenney, and the City Council to publicly commit to creating an anti-racist environment, and to ensure that diverse voices – including representatives from CBWFLP – are involved in the process of selecting the next President and Director of the Free Library. They must also ensure that all front-line Free Library workers are provided with paid COVID-19-related leave, personal protective equipment, and the training that they require to operate safely before asking them to return to the workplace. In addition, their return to work should include transparent and comprehensive protocols to address each demand of CBWFLP’s June 25 open letter. The impact of COVID-19 on essential workers has disproportionately affected BIPOC workers and has amplified the deep racial disparities in our communities.

PACSCL is proud to count the Free Library of Philadelphia as an active member of our organization: it is a central partner in several of our grant projects, and many of its staff contribute to PACSCL’s vitality. The Free Library has work to do, but so do all of us. The recent resignation of Siobhan Reardon as President and Director of the Free Library does not end, or even address, the structural racism and inequity that is prevalent not only in the Free Library, but throughout PACSCL’s member institutions. Many of the issues raised by the CBWFLP – including the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Brown communities, and patterns of racial inequities in library worker positions and compensation – apply across the board. We recommit ourselves to living up to the ideals of our statement on diversity and inclusion and our statement on Black Lives Matter and racial justice. We call on our members to continue the hard work of striving for justice. This work must begin with listening to Black library workers and by amplifying their voices.

We encourage staff at PACSCL organizations to listen, take action, and amplify the voices, not just of the Black workers at the Free Library of Philadelphia, but also of the employees of color in their own institutions. More information and resources are below.

–The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries
Endorsed by the Board of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries
July 27, 2020

Direct Actions

Selected Press Mentions

See also PACSCL’s Black Lives Matter / Anti-racism Resource List.