June 5, 2020
I debated whether to write this post about the current crisis of racial tension. I worried that words seem like not-enough in the face of the overwhelming problems exploding around us. But then I read this simple statement that shifted my thinking: “inaction is a tacit endorsement of the status quo.” Saying nothing is not an option; saying something is at least an action.
I also realized that I had been mistaken in thinking that mere words would not be enough. I know from 20 years as a librarian that stories (words) have the power to shape lives and change thinking. Words can be enough to change hearts.
So I offer these words in the hope that they resound in people’s hearts: NoveList believes Black Lives Matter and wants to end systemic racism.
How can we contribute to that goal? Reading stories from many different perspectives is one place to start. Stories give us all a point of contact for something other than our own experience. The more we read, the more we understand ourselves and the world around us. At NoveList we are committed to helping connect readers with the stories that expand their understanding of the world.
Stories also help us understand that the world is not what it should be. When someone is offered — through reading a story — a window into what the world feels like for someone else, it can help them recognize unjustness. And hopefully, it creates a desire to help fix the inequality. Stories can help illuminate the fact that power is unequally distributed based on race, class, and gender in our world. NoveList is committed to helping shine a light on unjustness and inequality.
We know we can do more, but here are a few concrete steps NoveList is currently taking to help shift the world a bit: expanding our language for describing diverse characteristics of stories, adding more author characteristics to help readers identify stories originating from diverse voices, using imagery and photos that represent diverse humanity, and ensuring that our book lists always include representation from a diverse set of authors. We are also working to make sure our own workplace is a more diverse and equitable one.
Another key commitment from NoveList is our unwavering support for libraries. Libraries are the keepers of stories. They welcome all people and build informed communities. We will continue working with libraries to support this important mission.
At NoveList, we want to continue learning and changing for the better. Do you have thoughts on what else can we do? Please let us know.
Danielle Borasky is the Vice President of NoveList.