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home : community forum June 24, 2017


Posted: Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Community forum entry by: Carolyn Laughlin

I’m writing to enthusiastically recommend the continuation and augmented promotion of the EPL’s African-American Literature Discussion Group.

Participation in the AAL over the last year has been an eye-opener. Lesley Williams has drawn together a racially and socially-economically diverse group of Evanstonians, and has masterfully facilitated intelligent discussions on sensitive, provocative issues. Her navigation has enabled readers of the thoughtfully selected literature to have deep, open conversations about race, historical and current injustice, and widely differing perspectives. In over 30 years of living in this community, I’ve not experienced more enlightenment and understanding through discourse about race while sitting beside Evanstonians of color.

My experience has been rich, significant, and beneficial, and should continue to be made available to others. Particularly in these difficult and fractious times, finding opportunities to understand the “other side” is rare and critical. While I am deeply disappointed that Lesley Williams will no longer be facilitating, these discussions must go on. They should be more broadly promoted (as many of my white friends are shocked that I’ve felt totally welcome and comfortable in the AAL discussion group.) This work is a jewel in EPL’s crown.

Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017
Community forum entry by: Jarret Dapier

Readers Disagree With Library Story
In your article “‘Metrics’ the Key to Library's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Study” you quoted only the Library Board and Director. Frankly, we are concerned about the journalistic integrity of such a one-sided paper.
You have refused to run our equity statement due to length, yet your article was over 1,600 words. You allege that the equity call is coming from outside agitators, yet you refused to run a letter from Evanstonian Tiffany Rice, and you ignored the calls for equity from the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, OPAL, the Evanston NAACP, and Open Communities Evanston Justice team, as well as hundreds of Evanston residents.
Why didn’t your article quote Lesley Williams, Rev Michael Nabors, Tiffany Rice or OPAL? In interviewing them, you would learn, for example, that the “silencing” of a patron happened after Ms. Williams repeatedly asked him to stop shouting at a speaker, and to allow the speaker and other participants to respond to his comments.
The library flyer Ms. Williams posted about on Facebook may have been "intended" to make immigrants feel welcome, but it merely trumpeted earlier board claims that "equity is in our DNA." Ms. Williams was pointing out what a slap in the face this was to black community members who do not receive "equal access” at the library.
While the women of color on the Board (only two of whom are African American) may feel good about their work, they appear to be more loyal to the library director than to community concerns. Tiffany Rice, president of the Dajae Coleman Foundation, is a highly respected community member in Evanston when she wrote the Board about concerns regarding equity and censorship at the library, Board VP Margaret Lurie called her “full of sh-t” and “ignorant.” Board President Michael Tannen implied she was not intelligent enough to listen to, and suggested bringing in her father to handle the dispute. EPL leadership appears to have a hard time with outspoken, fiercely intelligent black women who challenge them.
The board recently voted themselves into term limitless perpetuity, and they recommend their own replacements to the mayor. Where is the accountability and oversight? And to the EPL: please stop arguing about the feasibility of a library equity audit, and listen to community members.
Sincerely, Janet Alexander, Angela Banks-Stewart, Paul Barker, Richard Barnes, Alyce Barry, Brad Benson, Caroline Benson, Colin Benson, John Benson, Kayla Benson, Lynn Benson, Martha Burns, Greg Cassel, Judith Cieslak, Jarrett Dapier, Rabbi Michael Davis, Linda Faller, Marion Flynn, Caren L. Frazier, Stephen R. Frazier, Justin G.Frazier, Jean-Marie Freise, Elliot Frolichstein-Appel, Tamar Frolichstein-Appel, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Stacey Gibson, Pat Groh, Dee Hannan, Michele Hays, Gordon Hazen, Helen Herber, Deborah Hirshfield, Laura Hirshfield, Leslie Hirshfield, Pearl Hirshfield, Martha Holman, Bennett J. Johnson, Barb Lyons, Gay Menges, Kathleen McCain Engman, Carol Muskin, Dr. James Newman, Timi Papas, Charlotte Perelman, Lynn Pollack, Rosalie G. Riegle, Margie Rogasner, Rabbi Brant Rosen, Hallie Rosen, Oliver Ruff, , Newland F. Smith, Nancy Sreenan, Tina Stevenson, Janet Sushinski, Ghada Talhami, Robert V. Thompson, Betty Walker, Karen Werd, Betsy Wilson, Carole Wonderlich, Dr. Michael J. Wonderlich, and George Zrust

Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017
Community forum entry by: Elliot Zashin

I'm dismayed by the recent article the RoundTable published about the library controversy. Your reporter appears to have spent most of his time listening to the account provided by the director and members of the library board. The criticisms made by librarian Leslie Williams and her supporters (many of whom do live in Evanston) get much less attention. Major issues have been raised: diversity, equity, inclusion, accountability, transparency. These are not just abstractions professionals have figured out how to evaluate an organization's performance using various "metrics." It's unfortunate that Ms. Williams, for raising these issues, has been given the treatment often reserved for whistleblowers, i.e., actions intended to convince them to be quiet or move on.

Nonetheless, there is perhaps a positive note: the article seems to suggest that the board is moving toward accepting an outside evaluation. If so, we will all be the better for it.

Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017
Community forum entry by: Clif Brown

Here I reproduce a letter I have sent to Evanston Police Chief Eddington...

Chief Eddington:

You may recall our correspondence earlier this year where I asked about any EPD relationship with Israel. I never received a definitive no from you and your response that my question was "too all-encompassing" worries me. There should be absolutely no relationship between the EPD and Israel, making my query easily and quickly answerable with "no".

Here is a snippet from an article about Israeli promotion of U.S. police department visits to that country...

"Since 2001, hundreds of American police officers have been flown to Israel, most on the dime of pro-Israel groups, to tour the country and speak with Israeli security forces about how they keep their country safe. These police delegations, and (NY Governor) Cuomo's praise for the Israeli police, highlight how Israel is seen as a world leader in security. Because of this reputation, Israeli weapons and surveillance companies -- a core part of the Israeli economy -- have become well-known in far-flung countries. Such companies export billions of dollars worth of armaments and spy tools to virtually every region in the world."

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is giving a presentation on June 27 at 6PM at 637 South Dearborn in Chicago called "Deadly Exchange" about this issue. If you could spare someone from the EPD to attend, it would provide valuable information should the EPD be approached by any representative of Israel or an American offering money for the department to take part in the activities described in the linked article.

Clif Brown

The link referenced above is

Posted: Sunday, June 18, 2017
Community forum entry by: Dee Hannan

I am puzzled and confused by the article, "'Metrics" the Key to Library's Equity". It says she was disciplined for silencing and removing a black man from a library program. What are the details? It also mentions that her supporters are not from Evanston. Evidence?
I've attended many library programs and book clubs led by Lesley. She's been nothing but respectful and inclusive. And yes, I live in Evanston. Seems to me there's more to this story we're not being told.

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