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Libraries Without Borders US (LWB US) is a 501(c)(3) and the US branch of Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (BSF), an international non-profit based in Paris, France, that delivers access to information, knowledge, and education where it’s needed most. From refugee camps in Bangladesh to laundromats in Oakland, we seek to provide equal access to resources for communities historically subject to systemic discrimination. LWB US is based in Washington, D.C., and runs programs in more than a dozen US cities across 8 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
The ongoing public health crisis provoked by the spread of COVID-19 has ushered in unprecedented challenges, particularly for many Black Americans. The disease has struck hardest amidst the poor and communities of color, laying bare systematic racism and the deep inequalities of access to health care, jobs, and schools. At the same time, the protests and calls for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd have turned a spotlight on systemic racism in America.
Equal access is our priority
Both the public health crisis and Black Lives Matter reinforce our mission at LWB: to provide equal access to information and knowledge. Before the crisis, nearly 27 million Americans, disproportionately Black and Brown, lacked access to the Internet, a number that has soared in tandem with job losses. For children, the initial closure of schools exposed significant gaps in access to online teaching and deepened the inequality between those who have access to high-speed internet and those who don’t – keeping in mind that those who don’t are disproportionately non-white. The “new normal” mandates increased work and schooling from home, presenting enormous challenges for those without resources, computers, and broadband connections – again, disproportionately, people of color. In response, LWB US provides access to information and education to Black and Brown communities that need it most.
Awareness of racial inequities
LWB US continues our work to meet the challenges of the pandemic with a heightened awareness of the racial divide laid bare by Black Lives Matter. We have deepened our commitment to bridging the racial digital divide and providing all children and adults access to information, education, and knowledge. We believe that such access constitutes a human right and a cornerstone of democracy. With our local and national partners, we will meet the challenges of the current pandemic and the crisis in racial justice by focusing our efforts on equal access to information and education across the US and around the world.
Some more sources on the racial digital divide: