WSU Libraries offers a new library guide that serves as a starting point for resources to learn about and engage in anti-racism, compiled by librarian Erica Nicol. Patrons will find reading lists, as well as a list of books and more from the WSU Libraries’ collections.

Nicol pulled titles for the guide from some recommended reading lists that circulated after the May 25 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, including author Ibram X. Kendi’s The Anti-Racist Reading List as a base. In addition, WSU Libraries Dean Jay Starratt purchased 15 eBooks to add to WSU Libraries’ collections. Getting eBooks makes it possible for more people to access the books in our current social-distancing world, she said.

Closeup of Erica Nicol
Erica Nicol

“The guide largely came about because, in the wake of May 25, I wanted the libraries to do something to support Black Lives Matter and WSU’s work on eradicating institutionalized racism,” Nicol said. “A library guide doesn’t feel like much, but it does highlight what we in the libraries are especially good at—facilitating and promoting access to good information.”

One notable title that Nicol added to the guide is “Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva.

“It’s a fantastic book for white people who want to be better and more active allies,” she said, “and it really resonates with me as someone who was brought up in a time and place when being color blind was so heavily promoted.”

As a librarian, Nicol is also drawn to Safiya Noble’s “Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism,” which looks at how racism is embedded in online search results.

“It’s fascinating and really important to keep in mind when talking with students about searching and looking at information critically,” she said.

The library guide is a work in progress and will be updated frequently, Nicol said. While its focus is on anti-Black racism now, the guide will be expanded in the future to include more and different types of resources, and to look at racism that affects different groups.