Off the Shelf: Central Ohio libraries partner to foster conversation on race

Mark Shaw
Guest columnist

This year has changed life in numerous aspects, but one thing it has not changed is our mission. Southwest Public Libraries stands for more than just books. Our mission is to cultivate a love of lifelong learning while empowering our community. That’s why we are proud to have partnered with other central Ohio libraries on a special One Book – One Community initiative designed to bring people together and foster conversation and understanding.

Mark Shaw

SPL, in partnership with other central Ohio libraries, launched an 11-week Let’s Talk About Race: One Book – One Community program Nov. 9. The program invites all central Ohioans to read the bestselling book, "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi and join in the community conversation through Jan. 24. The program invites friends, families and neighbors to connect and reflect together about race and social justice through shared experience of the same book. The program will conclude Jan. 24, when SPL and partner libraries will be host to Reynolds in a free virtual talk at 4 p.m.

Let’s Talk About Race: One Book – One Community is brought to readers by SPL and partners Bexley Public Library, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Grandview Heights Public Library, London Public Library, Plain City Public Library, Upper Arlington Public Library, Westerville Public Library and Worthington Libraries. Central Ohio libraries have a proud history of collaboration to better serve the public, and SPL and these libraries last partnered on the 2019 sold-out event with travel author Rick Steves.

This newest collaboration seeks to build better understanding among all members of the community in order to forge a better future.

"Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" is a highly accessible remix of Kendi’s original "Stamped from the Beginning" and is relevant for teens and adults. Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of Southwest Public Libraries, the library has plenty of copies to borrow, and patrons should go to swpl.org or call the library to reserve a copy in print, audio or digital format.

The Friends, a nonprofit organization conducting fundraising, volunteer work, public-awareness efforts and literacy programs in the community on behalf of the library, donated funds to purchase additional copies of the title. SPL is deeply appreciative of their continued support.

While at the library, readers also might pick up additional resources SPL has prepared for all ages to help facilitate conversations on race, racism and equality, including curated books and booklists for further reading, as well as educational materials and book-club and reader guides.

We invite patrons to read and join the conversation. Learn more at swpl.org.

Southwest Public Libraries is monitoring pandemic developments. Services and building status are contingent upon the latest developments for the continued safety of our community. Go to swpl.org or the library’s social-media platforms for current building status, services and updates.

Mark Shaw is the director of Southwest Public Libraries.