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Publishers Weekly

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Cultural pluralism, Social justice, Public libraries -- Aims and objectives -- United States, Libraries and minorities -- United States, Equality, Social integration, Book industry -- Digital humanities


In the spring of 2020, the Multnomah County Library (Oregon) faced a host of issues impacting libraries across the nation: How to serve the community during a historic pandemic that saw schools and libraries close for an extended period? And how to respond to a racial and social justice awakening that requires systemic change?

Like many libraries across the nation, MCL librarians have been quick to meet their community’s needs. Following the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, for example, the library licensed more e-books and digital audiobooks about white supremacy and racial justice and undertook more sharing agreements to meet the surging demand for resources. MCL representatives say that in 2020, Layla F. Saad’s Me and White Supremacy and Me was the library’s most checked-out e-book, and How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi was the most checked-out audiobook.

But perhaps the most important strategy, librarians say, was to engage with and listen to the community.


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