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Equity and Equality Dialogue Initiative

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Equity and Equality Dialogue Initiative

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, N.C.

Equity and Inclusion | 2020

Innovation Synopsis

We designed the Equity and Equality Dialogue initiative to challenge library staff to think about their personal bias and its impact on customers and the community. Participants engaged in five, 90-minute Equity Impact Circles. This is a shared learning experience which explores personal views, behavior and language regarding equity.


In June 2020, leaders in Mecklenburg County declared racism as a public health crisis. Libraries can be part of an innovative solution to intentionally address this crisis. Libraries can serve as leaders in equity and address racism in programs, services and resources. Finding a platform to build staff capacity in this area is challenging in a normal environment; with COVID-19, we needed to create a sustainable learning opportunity, with proven results in a virtual platform.

Key Elements of Innovation

In March 2020, CML partnered with Community Building Institute and offered Equity Impact Circles. These discussions, which historically took place in person, were successfully hosted virtually. Participants viewed TED Talks and other content, followed by guided discussions. By collaborating with CBI, we were able to introduce a platform to address the challenge. We have a sustainable structure that provides staff with tools and knowledge to confront personal bias, improve customer service and build a stronger community.

Achieved Outcomes

Forty staff members participated in EICs and five staff members became facilitators. Library leadership and the Board of Trustees will join the initiative. EICs are available to all staff and open to the community.

Evaluations revealed participants:

  • Felt confident with vocabulary to talk about equity.
  • View community issues in terms of equity.
  • Have the right skills/tools to respond to inequity.
  • Felt connected with others with a passion for equity.
  • Experienced a shift in thinking and/or behavior.