Sway: Unraveling Unconscious Bias

Agarwal, P. (2020).  Sway: Unraveling Unconscious Bias . New York, NY: Bloomsbury Sigma.

Title: Sway: Unraveling Unconscious Bias
Author: Pragya Agarwal
Published: 2020 by Bloomsbury Sigma
Length: ~448 pages
ISBN: 978-1472971357

Summary: Think, understand, and evaluate your biases in a scientific and non-judgmental way with Sway: Unraveling Unconscious Bias. Using real world stories underpinned by scientific theories and research, this book unravels the way our unconscious biases are affecting the way we communicate, make decisions and perceive the world. A wide range of implicit biases are covered, including left-handedness, age-ism, sexism and aversive racism, and by using research and theories from a wide range of disciplines, including social science, psychology, biology and neuroscience, readers learn how these biases manifest and whether there is anything we can do about them.


APA (6th ed):
Agarwal, P. (2020). Sway: Unraveling Unconscious Bias . New York, NY: Bloomsbury Sigma.

Progressive Community Action

Mehra, B., & Rioux, K. (Eds.) (2016).  Progressive Community Action: Critical Theory and Social Justice in Library and Information Science . Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press.

Title: Progressive Community Action: Critical Theory and Social Justice in Library and Information Science
Editors: Bharat Mehra and Kevin Rioux
Published: 2016 by Library Juice Press
Length: ~382 pages
ISBN: 978-1-936117-65-9

Summary: Progressive Community Action explores theories, methods, approaches, strategies, and case studies on social justice work in library and information science. This edited volume includes entries on the intersections between critical theory and social justice in LIS while focusing on social relevance and community involvement to promote progressive change. Contributes include LIS researchers, practitioners, educators, social justice advocates, and community leaders.


APA (6th ed):
Mehra, B., & Rioux, K. (Eds.) (2016). Progressive Community Action: Critical Theory and Social Justice in Library and Information Science . Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press.

Diverse Views and Discussions in Library Programs

NYLA 2021 Social Responsibilities and Libraries Speaker Series

Part of ALA’s core value of Social Responsibility lies in helping inform and educate the public in addressing critical problems in society, and encouraging them to examine the facts of, and many different views on, these problems. This panel will discuss successful initiatives taken with public library programming, partnerships with local schools, and an academic library One Read program, to help you learn how you can bring similar programs to your library. Come with questions on how you can create engaging and enlightening discussions at your library, from hosting them yourselves to allying with your local school, community volunteers, or committee at your academic institution.


Alexander Andrasik, Adult Services Librarian, Penn Yan Public Library

Alex Andrasik is the adult services librarian at Penn Yan Public Library in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  Alongside professional interests and responsibilities that include technology instruction, pop culture programming, and sustainability, he strives to incorporate racial justice and equity education into the library’s offerings.  PYPL’s efforts in this area are very much a work in progress, but represent an essential aspect of library service in every community, including rural places like the Finger Lakes.

Heather M. Cook Volunteer Circle Keeper/Facilitator, Penn Yan Public Library

Heather M. Cook (she/her/hers, White) lives on the unceded homeland of the Onöndowa’ga:’ /Seneca people of the Hodinöhsö:ni’ / Haudenosaunee Confederacy in the Seneca Lake watershed, in what is commonly called the Finger Lakes area of New York State. With a background in conflict transformation and circle processes, she works as a facilitator and trainer at Partners for Restorative Initiatives (PiRI) in Rochester, NY.  She stumbles her way through trying to become less racist, and seeks to do that work in community, and to take risks for the liberation of all beings.

Rosemary Farrell Senior Librarian, Programs & Engagement, The Nyack Library

Rosemary Farrell is the Senior Librarian for Programming and Community Engagement at Nyack Library in the Lower Hudson Valley where she has worked for over ten years in various departments and lived for the past eighteen. She works with her colleagues in Adult Services to offer a robust calendar of programs encompassing an array of topics from personal finance, health, politics and social justice, to trivia, local history, the arts and sustainability.The Nyack Library strives to work with other community organizations to provide materials and services to our diverse population.

Arielle Hessler Emerging Technologies Librarian, John Jermain Memorial Library

Arielle Hessler is the Emerging Technologies Librarian at John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor, NY. In addition to researching and implementing new technologies at her library, she runs programs from monthly trivia and game nights, to serious discussions such as a Film Club that tackles assumptions on race and culture. Her library also partners with the local school for a parent/teen program called Tough Topics, and an annual program called The Wagner Dialogues that invites panelists with diverse political, religious, or cultural viewpoints to speak with the community. 

Charlene V. Martoni Student Workforce Supervisor, University at Albany Libraries

Charlene Martoni is the Access Services Student Workforce Supervisor at the University at Albany Libraries. In addition to motivating and mentoring student employees and full-time staff, Charlene participates on the Libraries’ newly reinstated DEI Climate Committee. By adapting a workflow she had developed while chairing a One Read committee in New Paltz, NY, Charlene collaborated with her new colleagues at the University at Albany to trial a library-wide One Read of So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Charlene will share insights, strategies, and survey data to help participants prepare to facilitate book discussions with colleagues on topics ranging from race and culture to ability status and gender identity.

Lora Tucker Volunteer & Discussion Moderator, John Jermain Memorial Library

Lora René Tucker is Brooklyn born and Brooklyn Public Library raised.  Ms.Tucker’s career reflects over 30 years of racial and social justice activism; creating and teaching antiracism, diversity, and cultural empowerment. Lora, now living in Sag Harbor, recently facilitated John Jermain Library’s Film Club for Black History month, and its joint “Tough Topics” events with the Sag Harbor school district’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Lora is an active member and facilitator of Racial Justice East End, and presently facilitates poetry therapy workshops at Stonybrook/Southampton Hospital’s Wellness Institute. She published “Writes of Passage” and now writes about the “-isms” we endure. She is studying for her MFA at Stonybrook University, receiving an award for returning to academia at the age of 60 (And in the middle of a pandemic!)    

Stupid Black Girl: Essays from an American African

by Aisha Redux

Topics: Race, first-generation Americans, mental health, sexuality.
Citation: Redux, A. (2020). Stupid Black Girl: Essays from an American African. Street Noise Books.

Goodreads description:

Redux explores common themes to her experience of existing in a Western country as a West African. Born to two parents who immigrated from Africa, Redux faces the world in a way she deems alienating yet powerful. She covers themes such as spirituality, mental health, and sexuality as it is interlaced with her experiences of racism and misogyny.



About the author:

Image courtesy of stupidblackgirl.com

Aisha Redux was born and raised in New York City. Her parents emigrated from West Africa. She is originally from the Upper West Side, has lived in Harlem and has been a proud resident of The South Bronx since her late teens.   She is noted for her great capacity in conveying original insight through her writing and other creative outlets. As an avid culture seeker with an insatiable interest in global lifestyles, Aisha loves to travel. She speaks fluent English, French and Sou-sou dialect and has a unique comfort and aptitude for assimilation to any environment. Also, through these travels, she has gained valuable connections, a vast knowledge of cultures and the force to launch a media and creative projects that inspire and impact. She has written for  various publications and loves interviewing and  podcasting. In addition to her writing ability, she is well versed in pop culture. The creation of ‘Stupid Black Girl’ is a culminating out pour of her talents and inspiration.


Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Topics: American history, masculinity, police brutality, race, segregation, slavery
Citation: Coates, T. (2015). Between the World and Me. Random House.

Goodreads description:

“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

New York Times “Ta-Nehisi Coates’s ‘Between the World and Me’”

About the author:

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ta-Nehisi Coates is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Between the World and Me, a finalist for the National Book Award. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellow, Coates has received the National Magazine Award, the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, and the George Polk Award for his Atlantic cover story “The Case for Reparations.” He lives in New York with his wife and son.




by Yaa Gyasi

Topics: American history, Ghana, race, slavery
Citation: Gyasi, Y. (2016). Homegoing. Random House.

Goodreads description:

A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.

Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoingfollows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi’s magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.

NPR “‘Homegoing’ Is A Sprawling Epic, Brimming With Compassion”
Washington Post “‘Homegoing,’ by Yaa Gyasi: A bold tale of slavery for a new ‘Roots’ generation”

About the author:

Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. Her short stories have appeared in African American Review and Callaloo.




Orange is the New Black (2011)

by Piper Kerman

Topics: Poverty, rehabilitation, women in prison
Citation: Kerman, P. (2011). Orange is the New Black. Random House.

Goodreads description:

Orange is the New Black Book Cover“With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before.
But that past has caught up with her.

Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424 — one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system.

From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance.

Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.” —GoodReads

Listen to the Orange is the New Black audio book free HERE.

New York Times Prison Life, Real and On Screen
NPR Behind ‘The New Black’: The Real Piper’s Prison Story
NPR  “Piper Kerman: Recipes for Survival
Slate  “What’s a Nice Blonde Like Me Doing in Prison?” (Book review)
Huffington Post  “Piper Kerman, ‘Orange is the New Black’ Author: What’s Real, What’s Not About Netflix Show
Huffington Post  “The Real Woman Behind ‘Orange is the New Black‘”

About the author:

“Piper Kerman is the author of the memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison from Spiegel & Grau. The book has been adapted by Jenji Kohan into an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning original series for Netflix.

Piper works with Spitfire Strategies as a communications consultant with nonprofits, philanthropies, and other organizations working in the public interest. She is a frequent invited speaker to students of law, criminology, gender and women’s studies, sociology, and creative writing, and also to groups that include the American Correctional Association’s Disproportionate Minority Confinement Task Force, federal probation officers, public defenders, justice reform advocates and volunteers, book clubs, and formerly and currently incarcerated people.

Piper serves on the board of the Women’s Prison Association, and she has been called as a witness by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights to testify on solitary confinement and women prisoners.  She has spoken at the White House on re-entry and employment to help honor Champions of Change in the field.  In 2014 Piper was awarded the Justice Trailblazer Award from John Jay College’s Center on Media, Crime & Justice and the Constitutional Commentary Award from The Constitution Project.” —Piperkerman.com

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (2016)

by Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

Topics: Hunger, poverty, welfare.
Citation: Edin, K. & Shaefer, H.L. (2016). $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. Mariner Books.

Goodreads description:

A revelatory account of poverty in America so deep that we, as a country, don’t think it exists

Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends.

After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s — households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children.

Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Edin has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones) with her procurement of rich — and truthful — interviews. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge.

The authors illuminate a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. More than a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality.

Check out the full website for $2.00 a Day!

About the authors:

After decades of research on poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before—namely, that many of the people she was talking with had virtually no cash coming in. She then teamed up with H. Luke Shaefer, who confirmed a spike in the number of U.S. households living on less than $2 per person per day in the wake of the 1996 reform that abolished a federal guarantee of support to the poor and thereby ended “welfare as we knew it.” Edin and Shaefer then traveled from Cleveland, to Chicago, to the Mississippi Delta to spend time with 18 families, trying to better understand how the 1.5 million households living in this extreme poverty, including 3 million children, are able to get by at all.

Photo by the Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Kathryn J. Edin, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, is recognized as one of the leading poverty researchers in the U.S. Noted for her “home economics of welfare” (Mother Jones), Edin uses both quantitative research and in-depth observation to try to better understand the lives of people living in poverty in the U.S. Her other books include Promises I Can’t Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage and Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City.

Photo by the University of Michigan School of Social Work

H. Luke Shaefer, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and the Ford School of Public Policy as well as a research affiliate at the National Poverty Center, is an expert on Census surveys that track the incomes of the poor. His recent work explores rising levels of extreme poverty in the U.S., the impact of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on material hardship, barriers to unemployment insurance, and strategies for increasing access to oral health care in the United States.

Behold the Dreamers (2016)

by Imbolo Mbue

Topics: Cameroon, economy, immigration, urban living
Citation: Mbue, I. (2016). Behold the Dreamers. Random House.

Dubbed one of the “totally hippest novels of 2016” by the Washington Post.
Oprah Winfrey’s 2017 Book Club Pick.
2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction.

Goodreads description:

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

Check out this reading guide from Penguin Randomhouse!

About the author:

Photo by Kiriko Sano

Imbolo Mbue is a native of the seaside town of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a BS from Rutgers University and an MA from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for more than a decade, she lives in New York City.