Library appreciates 1619 Project interest and concern
To the Editor:
In a “request for reconsideration” in January, Robert Shwab asked that Heights Libraries’ 1619 Project program be balanced by information from “critical scholars and other Black voices.” He asked that the program’s moderator be removed, and that the program include 1776unites.com curricula. Heights Libraries’ Board of Trustees discussed the request during its Feb. 1 board meeting. The board and library responded by e-mailing Mr. Shwab:
- A report by the originator of the program that included a program overview, rationale for the discussion group, and historical sources consulted.
- A three-page bibliography of the works the program moderator has studied to prepare for the 1619 Project programs. These are works by scholars who are recognized in their fields. The program moderator has worked hard to put together a scholarly and thought-provoking program that has been very popular with our community.
- Our Materials Evaluation and Selection Policy. The 1619 Project meets the criteria described in our policy. The 1776unites.com curricula does not meet our inclusion standards as delineated in the Materials Evaluation and Selection policy. (The policy is available at www.heightslibrary.org.)
We have heard Mr. Shwab’s call for balance, and will be dedicating the May 13 program to address the controversy and criticism of the 1619 Project in a program called “1619 Project vs. 1776 Project.” Additionally, when applicable and relevant, scholars critical of the project will be included in future discussion packets.
Regarding his charge of being muted: The rule of the library’s online Zoom programs is “one mike, one speaker,” to avoid cross talk. Participants are muted after they speak. Mr. Shwab made his point, then he was muted after he finished speaking to allow the moderator to respond. He left the program before it was his turn to speak again.
We invite all community members to attend our upcoming 1619 Project discussions. Details may be found at www.heightslibrary.org.
Sheryl Banks is the communications manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.