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Reckoning With Our Past and Present

Post contributed by Naomi Nelson, Associate University Librarian and Director of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Over the past three years, staff in the Rubenstein Library have engaged in a series of conversations, readings, and workshops to better understand white supremacy, racism and racial bias; to explore the ways racism is institutionalized in the RL’s collections, staffing, services and practices; and to make and implement plans that will move us closer to being an inclusive, welcoming, and respectful organization.

During the past year, we have been part of the efforts at Duke and in the Duke Libraries to develop plans that will address systemic racism.  Together we developed a statement of commitment to anti-racism that sets our priorities and a four-year roadmap with concrete objectives.  We acknowledge that these objectives are just the next steps along a very long road that will take much more than four years to walk.  We will track milestones and update the plans as we go forward.  We share these plans as part of our commitment to the work.

The reading room of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, taken from the back. Two columns of tables and chairs lead to the reference desk and reading room doors. The walls are wood paneled and the ceilings are vaulted.
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s reading room. Photo by Mark Zupan.

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