Our History

In the summer of 2020, at the height of the pandemic and racial tension, we donned a pair equity glasses.

The California State Library (CSL) and the California Library Association (CLA) made a commitment to work with library staff across the state to learn the why, how, and what of equity-based summer services. CSL and CLA knew that in order to serve communities successfully libraries had to re-envision summer services so to move beyond traditional activities that focus on those who already visit the library on a regular basis, and move into working with community members and organizations to co-design (a process by which people design with each other instead of for each other) services that brought to the fore the assets and challenges of systemically non-dominant communities.

A button that says pause with a hand hovered over it ready to push

14 libraries participated in that first year of work and through deep conversations about equity and about library summer services and communities a Workbook was developed to help more libraries engage in equity-based summers design and implementation.  

The work did not end after that first year and over the next year co-designers learned more about what it takes to lay a foundation of equity in summer services and began to consider how to train other library staff in this work.

In 2022, CLA was awarded funding by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). This funding made it possible for BEBS to go nationwide. Over the next several years 16 more states will begin building equity-based summers using the BEBS model.

These years of our learning and experience are brought together in our BEBS learning sessions.

We believe that providing equitable services is central to most library’s mission statements and that all people are vulnerable to biased thinking that could act as a barrier to reaching that goal.

- California library staff member

Could BEBS impact more of your community? Join our free learning sessions to begin the change.

We would love to hear from you and you can expect a reply within three days.

Don’t forget to check the FAQs. Your question may be answered there.

creature clapping and saying yay you tried

Thank you for reaching out! We will get back to you within three business days.