Message from the Dean and Faculty and Staff Leadership of USC Libraries

Dear Colleagues and Members of the USC Community,

As we try to come to terms with the killing of George Floyd, we are heartbroken and angry. We are heartbroken at the violent, continuing, and unjust loss of life and angry at persistent racism and the lack of accountability. I hope we are also determined to make meaningful and substantial change throughout and beyond our libraries and our USC community.

We are a group of library colleagues who care deeply about our students, faculty, staff, and each other, and we are committed to values of equity and inclusion. Broad values are important, but specificity is essential. We must acknowledge that anti-Black racism drives the violence that took the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. In the case of Tony McDade, it is anti-Black racism and anti-trans bigotry. None of that bigotry is isolated or new. It is systemic and historical.

Our communities are experiencing those deaths in the context of a global pandemic, and COVID-19 has brought to the fore other kinds of bias. Incidents of anti-Asian racism followed the arrival of COVID-19. Latinx and Black communities are suffering disproportionate impacts of infection and death. Those inequities also demand and deserve our attention as we consider our personal and institutional responsibilities.

We understandably tend to focus on the intellectual and service aspects of libraries and librarianship. Now is the time to emphasize the moral imperatives of our profession. Libraries are not free of systemic, historical bias or its consequences, and no matter our intentions, biases influence how we provide services, build collections, and organize our institutions. If we are to contribute to and help make possible substantive change, we will engage in thoughtful critique of libraries, our practices, and the history of our profession.

To everyone in the libraries: As dean and leadership of library faculty and staff, we commit to doing that work with all of you. As we proceed together, it is vital to recognize the specific experiences of our Black colleagues—we will not increase your anguish and anxiety by asking you to bear the burden of anti-racist work. We affirm the humanity of all our colleagues of color and our LGBTQ colleagues, and we acknowledge the systemic biases that do harm. We do not have all the answers, but we know that listening, learning, and acting will move us forward. It will be challenging, often uncomfortable, but entirely necessary.

To our USC community: Your libraries join the thousands of voices throughout the university and across the country in honoring lost lives, in standing with Black students, faculty, and staff, and in uniting against racism and racist violence. We oppose and will work to dismantle prejudice and violence against all people of color, the LGBTQ community, and all marginalized people. And we join you in working intentionally and meaningfully toward our shared hopes for justice, healing, and community.

Sincerely,
Catherine Quinlan
Dean of the USC Libraries

Nancy Olmos
Head, Metadata and Content Management
Incoming President, USC Libraries Faculty Council

Louise Smith
Digital Library Project Manager
Chair, USC Libraries Staff Council

Chiméne E. Tucker
Communication and Journalism, Gender and LGBTQ Studies Librarian
Immediate Past President, USC Libraries Faculty Council