Sun Prairie Public Library launches Racial Literacy initiative

The library hopes this initiative can be a first step to building a more inclusive community.
Published: Aug. 30, 2020 at 10:12 PM CDT
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SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (WMTV) - The Sun Prairie Public Library is working to root out racism - through reading. After nationwide protests over racial inequality, the library is launching a new Racial Literacy Plan to address systemic racism.

After the death of George Floyd sparked protests across the country, the Sun Prairie Public Library wanted to get involved.

“I really wanted to not just have a statement, but I wanted to have some sort of action,” said library director Svetha Hetzler.

Hetzler came up with a Racial Literacy initiative to examine the library’s own policies and to make sure everyone can access its resources.

“Are we as inclusive as we need to be, is there equity, are we removing barriers?” Hetzler explained, adding the library is also working to have more representation in their staff and board members.

As part of the initiative, the library is also starting a book club focused on Black authors, led by two Black women in the community. The two directors said they want the book club to be a space where people can learn about and share different perspective.

“[An] opportunity to be able to say, ’Wow, I never thought of it like that’,” explained Marilyn Ruffin, co-director of the new book club.

Donna Mackey, the other co-director, said a book club like this is important because, “Oftentimes, people of color do not have an opportunity to have their voices heard.”

Ruffin and Mackey will lead the new Urban SUN: Black Voices Book Club, starting with authors like Michelle Obama and James Baldwin. The two women also want to examine the history of race and racism in the U.S.

“Younger people don’t always understand how far we’ve come,” Mackey said. Ruffin added, “And how far we have to go.”

All three women hope the initiative can be the first step towards building a more inclusive community in Sun Prairie.

“We really need to get together and have different perspectives and to also get our community, specifically our communities of color to come out and conversate with us,” Ruffin said.

The first book club meeting will be held Sunday, Sept. 27 at 3 p.m. on Zoom. To register, click here.

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