I recently sought to find the book "Before The Mayflower" by Lerone Bennett Jr. in the Fishers, Indiana library system. My search request came back with the results that the book was not in the holdings of the Fishers, Indiana library system. I queried several other books by black authors with "no results" being the result when I pressed "search". This prompted me to write a letter to the head of the library as follows:
Hello, Over the past year I have periodically sought books either by African American authors or on topics related to African Americans. On several occasions the library obtained the materials for me via an inter library loan. I'm thankful for those efforts. Recently I did several searches for the following materials:
1. The book "Before the Mayflower" by Lerone Bennett Jr. 2. The book "Blood in their Eyes" by Grif Stickley and 3. Looked up a book on Ed Dwight the first candidate to become a black astronaut.
On each occasion the search turned up no results. So I am concerned that the library's offerings are not as diverse as it could be under the published guidelines. I understand the community does not have a large African American population, but the information available in the books are a source of knowledge to help educate other races and cultures regarding the experience of African American's in this country.
I did comparable searches under such topics as "Ku Klux Klan", "White nationalism" etc. and offerings immediately appeared. I would like this matter brought to the attention of those responsible for procuring materials for the library. If needed a resource from the African American community should be contacted to see what are the basic offerings the library lacks regarding the African American experience and interests. The Board of Trustees appears to suffer from a lack of diversity to fully understand the need for diverse materials.
I also noticed a reference that a group called Friends of the Library also contributes funds to library operations?
Mr. Arnell Hill
The response I received said the following:
Dear Mr. Hill:
I appreciate that you have taken the time to provide this feedback. It is very valuable. I will share your concerns and suggestions with our Resource and Access Services staff who are tasked with developing our collections. It is important to us that our collections are current and reflect the interests and needs of our patrons.
Do I expect the collection of the library to change? Nope. Fishers, Indiana is definitely a majority European American based community. Diversity is not a strong point of Fishers, Indiana. Of course Fishers will occasionally feature a black music group at some activities and events. Also an athlete is always welcomed for display. That is the reality of some European Americans. African American athletes and entertainers matter. Ensuring books by African Americans exist in a library's collection, does not matter. In terms of a welcoming environment, Fishers really doesn't have a lot to offer an African American family interested in African American culture.