Please excuse cross-postings
I have an important message to send to all of you who are in public libraries and who participate in the CSLP summer reading program. I recently sent out the 2020 Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) incentives catalogs to everyone. Upon reviewing the numerous materials in the manual and catalog, it has come to my attention that the 2020 artwork is problematic for many reasons. In particular, the poster artwork for all age groups – early literacy, children, teen and adult – uses imagery that is culturally appropriated from several American Indian nations. The stories that the raven and coyote images references are sacred stories, not fairy or folk tales. On the poster for adults, there is an image near the bottom suggesting a woman imagining herself in what appears to be a feather headdress, which is inappropriate and offensive. With this context, I hope you see why many of the stories referenced in the artwork convey messages that are not in line with our priorities of inclusion and equity in New Jersey public libraries.
I believe that, with the direction of the CSLP art committee, the illustrator LeUyen Pham had only the best intentions in designing the art for this theme but the potentially harmful impact on our patrons is what matters most, not the intent. I am sorry that this has happened and I feel that I am partly to blame. As the CSLP State Rep I should have noticed this sooner and pushed harder to have the issue resolved.
I urge you to discard the print incentives catalogs you received and only shop for incentives through the CSLP online store. If you have previously downloaded these images of the posters for use to promote the summer library program please remove them from your online sites and please evaluate any programs for appropriative or non-inclusive content.
The CSLP Organizational Coordinator and Executive Board has been very responsive to these concerns. I am attaching a letter from CSLP stating what actions they are taking to address this. It includes removing all posters from the online store, and all product containing the coyote, raven, and/or a totem pole image from the online store. The PDF of the incentives catalog on the CSLP website will be updated. CSLP has already commissioned one-poster design and one “timed reading” record for the 2020 program.
I have not placed an order for all the incentives the public libraries usually receive for free courtesy of LSTA funds the NJ State Library receives but I will do that soon. The redesigned one-poster design is already available for purchase on the CSLP website and any product with tribal imagery will not be sold. No tribal imagery was used in the online manual. All public libraries will receive the original banner design with children reading on it.
I wanted to let you know about what is happening regarding the manual and incentives before your planning and purchasing begins in earnest. If you have any questions, please contact me.
All the best,
Sharon Rawlins, MLS
Youth Services Specialist for Lifelong Learning
NJ State Library
185 West State St.
P.O. Box 520
Trenton, NJ 08625-0520
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609-278-2640 ext. 116
609-278-2650 – fax
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