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Decolonizing the Stacks

February 03, 2021

For Public Interest Week, Reframing The Nation: Working Towards Racial Justice, the Biddle Law Library is partnering with the Toll Public Interest Center to present a panel discussion on decolonizing library collections. 


Decolonizing the Stacks

Thursday, February 4, 2021
5:00 - 6:30 PM • Virtual via Zoom
The presentation is free to attend but registration is required.



As Dr. Nicole A. Cooke writes, decolonization of the library is a process that involves “decentering whiteness, and being more inclusive to voices of color and to voices that represent diverse perspectives” in our libraries and collections.

She notes that “[a]s librarians … we must have honest, direct conversations about anti-racism, equity, and inclusion, and acknowledge our roles as gatekeepers and in privileging Western norms. We can no longer privilege the ‘canon’ or maintain the status quo. We must devote significant and substantive time to discussing the field’s diversity problems, our implicit biases, and the language we use. Specifically, we must reconsider how we think and speak about systemic racism and inequity and how that’s baked into the infrastructure of our society.”

Panelists will discuss the steps they have taken in their work to decolonize their libraries, including decentering whiteness, building collections centering BIPOC voices, and creating digital collections confronting the fight to integrate the student body of a major university.


Nariné Bournoutian, Head of Continuing Resources and Collection Maintenance, Columbia University

Donna Nixon, Electronic Resources Librarian and Clinical Professor of Law, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Rebecca Stuhr, Director for Academic Engagement and Librarian for Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania

Jessica Ugstad, Library Collection Management Specialist, The University of Arizona

Amanda Runyon, Moderator, Associate Dean and Director of Biddle Law Library

Additionally, we thank the Association of Native Alumni of the University of Pennsylvania for drafting the following land acknowledgement for the University of Pennsylvania:

“We recognize and acknowledge that the University of Pennsylvania stands on the Indigenous territory known as ‘Lenapehoking,’ the traditional homelands of the Lenape, also called Lenni-Lenape or Delaware Indians. These are the people who, during the 1680s, negotiated with William Penn to facilitate the founding of the colony of Pennsylvania. Their descendants today include the Delaware Tribe and Delaware Nation of Oklahoma; the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, Ramapough Lenape, and Powhatan Renape of New Jersey; and the Munsee Delaware of Ontario.”