A message from Library Director Claudine Perrault about the crisis of racial injustice and the urgency for learning and dialogue.

Stories Change Us for the Better

by Claudine Perrault, Library Director

We are experiencing a time of national pain and perhaps, awakening.  Awakening to the crisis of racial injustice, and that out of genuine outrage, emerges a common call for change and action.

Claudine Perrault

As a public organization, we have a unique role and responsibility to challenge inequality. The Estes Valley Library stands committed to the values of equal rights, access, opportunities, and justice.

In recent years, the Library has held community conversations on racism and indifference, compassion and responsibility, but the nation’s desire for further dialogue and change has reached a renewed sense of urgency. It’s time to accelerate these efforts.

Many local voices are joining this important conversation. I want to thank Estes Park Police Chief Wes Kufeld and Fire Chief David Wolf for their words to us this week, posted on the Town of Estes Park and Fire District Facebook pages. We recognize that this is now an indelible part of our civic discourse, and that we must channel our fullest efforts for a better tomorrow.

Just this week, our entire (and sizable) collection of anti-racist titles has been checked out, the shelves both physical and digital, cleared by those hungry to understand this defining issue. We invite you to stay curious, to place Holds on Between the World and MeWhite Fragility, and many others, and to consider reading even more widely with these featured titles as a starting place.

There is no shortage of data or stories on the subjects of race, color, and privilege. And no reader is too young to start. Our children’s librarians have posted YouTube videos on how books can help in talking with kids about racism. Book Clubs for any age are ripe for shared discussion, and easy to facilitate. Care to put one together? The Library can help. We’ll even host it on our Zoom platform.

Reading increases our capacity for empathy. Stories, quite literally, help us to better understand ourselves and to see the world through others’ eyes. A 2013 study tracked a noticeable increase in empathy for those who read fiction on a weekly basis. Reading helps.

I became a librarian because I believe in the power of reading, and in the library itself as an instrument for achieving America’s highest ideals. From my childhood apartment in the big city, to my home in our secluded mountain village, reading has changed my world view, helping me to think more broadly and behave more compassionately. But I, like many others, have further to go. Meaningful conversations are essential, and change necessary. You have my commitment that the Library will continue our partnership with Restorative Justice to facilitate more frequent and positive, if occasionally uncomfortable, community conversations. Engagement is the way.

To all members of our community and to our Library’s frequent out-of-town guests:  You are welcome here.  You are safe here.  Know that we will continue nurturing our shared community connections today and always.