The month of June is shaping up to be quite busy for the King County Library System, with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) an important focus.
For the first time, Juneteenth will be honored and celebrated as a national holiday, commemorating the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. KCLS will observe the holiday on Sunday, June 19. A partnership with the City of Tukwila features an in-person Juneteenth celebration the day before, on Saturday, June 18, from 2-4pm. The event, being held in the outdoor plaza next to the Tukwila Library, includes books and resources, plus civic engagement activities for youth.
Our staff also has compiled a great Juneteenth reading list; be sure to check it out.
In addition to honoring the new holiday, throughout the month of June, KCLS will offer a range of DEI programs and events to celebrate the diversity of King County and our commitment to making our libraries welcoming spaces for all residents.
This includes online Pride Month author events, as well as a World Refugee Day celebration June 25 at the Federal Way Library. World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe. It celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. It is also an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.
For more than a decade, the Library System has focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, embracing all people, removing barriers to opportunities and fostering communities of belonging. In 2016, DEI was incorporated into KCLS’ mission, vision and values to inform organizational strategies and actions ranging from hiring and collections to community outreach and accessibility. Outreach and programming has expanded for older adults, LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC residents. KCLS also seeks to build relationships with local Native American tribes, Veterans’ support groups and many other local organizations. World Language Story Times and children’s literacy programs also have grown in response to changing demographics.
Last year, KCLS further ramped up its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, creating a DEI department, which has been immersed in researching communities and services through a DEI lens. Their in-depth assessment has included interviews with staff members, community partners and leaders. The department expects to deliver a full report with recommendations to our Board of Trustees in coming months.
KCLS Libraries are public spaces where everyone is welcome and where everyone belongs, regardless of age, ability, race, class, ethnicity, gender or religion. The Library System empowers people by providing learning opportunities that range from literacy, tutoring and technology to Welcoming Centers for immigrants, refugees and new arrivals. KCLS is about connecting people to information and resources–as well as to each other.
Please check our website, kcls.org, and join us–in person or online–to learn more about Juneteenth, and join us in celebrating the rich diversity of King County.