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California university’s ‘anti-racist’ library collection funded with COVID relief funds

Money meant to help universities dealing with COVID shutdowns funded the purchase works of black playwrights

California State University San Marcos expanded its “anti-racist” library collection with the help of federal COVID relief dollars, according to a recent announcement from the school.

“I am incredibly excited about the library’s tangible commitment to developing our collections in ways that wholly represent the experiences and voices of communities and groups that have been historically underrepresented and marginalized in academia,” librarian Lalitha Nataraj said in a CSUSM news release. “To me, this is a clear sign that we are moving toward a more anti-racist praxis.”

“Thanks to money from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), the library was able to purchase access to these digital collections that go directly to support teaching and research,” the September 14 news release stated. “Additional funding came from the chancellor’s office – with support of the CSU provosts – following a vote of the CSU council of library deans after feedback was requested from campus faculty.”

The archives now include an “American Indian Histories and Cultures collection.” The university purchased a “Black Drama collection [which] contains more than 1,700 plays written by more than 200 Black playwrights from around the world,” according to another librarian.

This is how the library its doing part to advance the “collective” campus goal of being “anti-racist,” according to Nataraj, the librarian.

MORE: University group works to take ‘racist’ books off shelves

“The library does not exist in a vacuum, inured to the structural inequities and systemic oppression that impacts Black, Indigenous and People of Color,” Nataraj said.

“Our collections are organic, and library staff and faculty constantly update them to reflect the changing sensibilities of the world around us,” she told the university. This includes “developing our materials to be more representative and anti-racist, addressing instances of racist language in our collections and catalog records, and analyzing our print collections to fill gaps.”

“Being anti-racist is a collective responsibility on the CSUSM campus,” she said. “Since the collections directly support the teaching mission of the university, the library also commits to creating co-curricular programming for the campus community on anti-racism, systemic oppression and similar topics.”

MORE: Marxist CUNY librarian elected president of American Library Association

IMAGE: California State University San Marcos Library/Facebook

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.