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Actively Anti-Racist Service to Leisure Readers with Robin Bradford [last updated April 2, 2021]

Editors note: This page is the home of all "Actively Anti-Racist Service to Leisure Readers" training programs offered by Becky and Robin, either alone or together. It will be updated regularly with program offerings and pricing, with a notation of that update in the title of the page; however, our scheduled events and links to any handouts are still available on the Recent and Upcoming Presentations Page.

For the last 2 years I have been providing a program entitled, "#OwnVoices for All Readers: Incorporating EDI Values into Readers' Advisory Service." This program focused on explaining why and how even the most well-meaning white librarians did harm and upheld systemic racism in their everyday work. The program focused on coming to terms with this fact [I used examples from my own missteps to guide the way], and gave some tangible action steps library workers could use to do better. This program was 70% hand holding and 30% ways to do better.

Often, I teamed up with my friend and colleague Robin Bradford to give these programs as we could each tackle our speciality [collections development for her and RA service for me], but by Summer 2020 we were both growing tired of lecturing everyone as to WHY they should stop being racist and upholding systemic oppression. We were done with the hand-holding and getting frustrated with how slowly things were progressing in terms of action. What we were both hearing in response to our programs were more excuses and reasons why our action steps were not possible. It was frustrating to say the least.

Our first step toward change was to move away from the traditional "lecture" model and have conversations. We felt like these moderated conversations could help make change seem more possible. Two of those which you can watch below were:

These series of conversations moderated by others did help. It allowed us to be more responsive. And then, the resulting follow-ups we were receiving began to get more nuanced. It appeared people were more willing to stop making excuses, quit the hand wringing, and start acting.

As a result, Robin and I have pivoted again and are offering a new slate of programs, training sessions with a more action oriented description. 

Actively Anti-Racist Service to Leisure Readers
Increasing the collection and circulation of titles written by underrepresented authors is not a trend, rather, providing robust readers’ advisory service that values equity, diversity and inclusion principles is essential to all library service. But moving from being a neutral, well-meaning library where systemic racism is acknowledged to an actively anti-racist organization involves work, some of which is uncomfortable at first. In this program you will begin that work, learning tangible skills to help build enthusiasm for reading and discovering "diverse" books, to deepen RA service through thoughtful inclusion of EDI principles in all interactions with leisure readers, and to be a steward of the anti-racist mindset for your organization. Readers’ Advisory and Collection Development experts Becky Spratford and Robin Bradford will move your team from merely discussing "why" putting EDI concerns at the forefront of all of your work with leisure readers is important to the "how," including an honest look at action steps for all staff. While it may seem uncomfortable at first, Becky and Robin will help you shift your focus allowing your entire organization to craft an actionable plan to incorporate EDI values into your normal RA practices. All you need is a little nudge in the right direction and a commitment to begin the march forward.

This program comes as an open and honest conversation between Robin and I about how to provide actively anti-racist service to leisure readers by using our most commonly received concerns. Including but not limited to:

  • How to identify more diverse titles to add to our collections.

  • How to display, booktalk, and organize titles in an anti-racist way.

  • How to promote diverse titles always and not just in their "months."
  • How to deal with actively racist request for “NO” black, gay, etc books
  • Complaints from patrons that you highlight too much diversity.

  • Issues about “censorship” re: not promoting popular problematic titles.

  • Cancel culture and “classics.”

  • American Dirt was our top circulating Book of 2020. What do we do now?

However, we are also encouraging libraries to submit questions that they want to discuss, no matter how uncomfortable, in this environment. These programs run 90 mins. You can also have us do a more foundational training, taped or live, although we suggest those happen as a precursor to the conversations. Often, just Becky can be available to provide the foundational lecture. It is an excellent idea in terms of making sure your entire staff has a level foundation upon which you begin this hard work, together.

Two main things you need to agree to before contracting with us however: 

  1. "Not-Racist" is a point of view but "Anti-Racist" requires action
  2. Those who are agreeing to become "Actively Anti-Racist" by contracting with us must be willing to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

Currently we have signed contracts to work with the entire staff of Eugene [OR] Public Library and Darien [CT] Library to provide a series of discussions and webinars. And that "series" wording is important. There are many options to fit your library. The minimum pricing is $300 per person, per appearance. So $600 to have both of us, however, if you want to break up your staff into two groups for the conversations or provide separate background webinars on CD and RA, pricing begins at $250 per appearance.

We are keeping the pricing of these programs as low as possible so that more libraries can afford them, we are also reaching out to state library conferences to provide these training programs which will make it even more affordable to individual libraries. Please note however, while I am available more often solo, due to Robin's full time library job we are limiting our partnered appearances to one library per month. This training program is a process and we are often visiting virtually and live at least 2x per library [minimum]. Also, all inquires go through me. I will be handling all of the paperwork, scheduling, and contracts. Please note however, we are operating as separate contractors, not starting a new company. All paperwork including invoices will note that.

All contracts made with Becky and Robin will also include Becky's EDI Mission statement. Signature of a contract for services with Becky and Robin confirms your acceptance of this statement as well as the terms of our agreement.

If you are interested, reach out to me and we can begin the conversation. Every client has specific needs and we have a more fully fleshed out series of questions and issues for you to discuss as you plan to work with us.

As of April 2, 2021we have no live availability in 2021 available for this partnered program. 2022 is wide open. Becky can provide programming alone however.

I hope I have made this as clear as possible, but just in case you missed it, we are not playing around here. There is no more tiptoeing around these issues. 400 years of systemic oppression needs dismantling. It will be a long and hard process with heavy lifting required. This is not dainty work, but we are here to help you push up your sleeves and to help us be a part of the solution.

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