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Let’s Talk Race: How Conversation Challenged and Changed a Library and a Community

How does a library respond to a community and nation deep in crisis around racism and social justice? Using innovative approaches like Let’s Talk Race discussions, mobile empathy labs, diverse programming, Employee Resource Groups and required DEI staff trainings, Richland Library in Columbia, S.C. is working to create change in their community and library. Hear how Richland Library is moving the needle on honest dialogue, empathy and equity and you will be inspired to dig in and do the work at your own library.


  • Melanie Huggins, Executive Director, Richland Library
  • Tamara King, Community Relations Director, Richland Library
  • Dee Robinson, Director of Library Experience, Branches
  • Randy Heath, Manager, Richland Library Edgewood

This program is free to ULC members, yet registration is required.

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Presented by

Melanie Huggins 1417 Crop B

Melanie Huggins

Executive Director, Richland Library

Melanie Huggins is the executive director of Richland Library in Columbia, S.C., which received the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service — the nation’s highest honor. Melanie has received recognition from several local and state entities. Her work is influenced by her belief that libraries are uniquely positioned to make communities more livable, resilient, and inclusive. She is a recognized leader and speaker in the library profession, having held trustee positions with both the Urban Libraries Council and the Public Library Association. Melanie has recently been named the incoming president for PLA.

Tamara King Ms 2019 Pic 1

Tamara King

Community Relations Director, Richland Library

Tamara King is the community relations director for Richland Library. In her role, she is tasked with developing, directing and implementing communications strategies to key stakeholders and audiences of Richland Library. Tamara also supervises the Office of Development, which supports the Richland Library Friends and Foundation along with the library volunteer program. She has nearly two decades of experience in broadcast television, public relations, marketing, strategic communications, media and crisis communication training and program management. In addition to her role leading the library’s community relations efforts, Tamara also chairs the library’s award-winning Let’s Talk Race Team. Through Tamara’s leadership the team has held discussions surrounding empathy, race, women’s rights and social justice for nearly 2,000 participants.