I.D.E.A. Book Club

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Working at a public library, equity is something we discuss often, because one of our purposes is to provide equity of access to information and help bridge the digital divide. There are, however, so many other facets to equity, such as social justice and equal opportunity. Before I started working at the library I cared about these issues, but I have to admit that I didn’t feel compelled to take action, probably because my life is more comfortable that way. Working at a public library has been a life-changing experience for me, because we see so many different people with a wide range of needs. I realized that for me, inaction is equivalent to contributing to the problem.

Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to take steps toward positive change, because the issues are so big and systemic. So, we have chosen three books that we hope will help increase understanding and awareness. We invite you to read these books with us. We are hosting book discussions with library staff for each title and are very excited to announce that we will have a special speaker from SIUE for each title.

The Edwardsville Public Library and the Edwardsville – SIUE Community Destination Group have worked together to bring you this programming, and we ask you to read the book with us and attend with an open mind and heart.

Jill Schardt

Edwardsville Public Library

The Warmth of Other Suns
by Isabel Wilkerson

Book Discussions: July 1 & July 15 (click on dates to register), location: Edwardsville Public Library
SIUE Speaker:
Dr. J.T. Snipes - July 22 @ the Wildey Theatre (3rd floor)

Speaker Biography:
J.T. Snipes, Ph.D.,
is Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Prior to his faculty appointment he worked for over 12 years in higher education administration. Currently, his research interest focuses on religion and spirituality in higher education, African American collegiate students, and critical race theory in education. He recently completed his award-winning dissertation entitled, “Ain’t I Black too: Counterstories of Black Atheist in College.” It explores the narratives of secular African American students in college. His latest edited volume Remixed and Reimagined: Innovations in Religion, Spirituality, and (Inter)Faith in Higher Education invites readers to rethink religious scholarship and practice in higher education and student affairs.

Book Summary from the Publisher:
In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.
From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

Available Digitally:
OverDrive/Libby (ebook)
CloudLibrary (ebook)

Request in Catalog

Past Books:

The Color of Law
by Richard Rothstein

Speaker Biography:
Florence Maätita is Professor of Sociology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She teaches various courses, such as Race and Ethnic Relations, Social Inequality, Immigration, Intergroup Relations, and most recently Power, Inequality and Resistance in a Pandemic. Her research has focused on racism and canon in the world of Harry Potter, immigration and motherhood, and tokenism among BIPOC women in academia. In addition to teaching and promoting sustained conversations and actions toward ending racism, sexism, xenophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia, she loves Pilates, traveling, hazelnut lattes, college basketball, and looking out the windows with her two cats, Sani and Bellatrix.

Book Summary from the Publisher:
In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation—that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation—the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments—that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.

Available Digitally (with no wait):
Hoopla (audiobook)
OverDrive/Libby (ebook & audiobook)

Request in Catalog
Nickel Boys
by Colson Whitehead

Book Discussion: May 27 (click on dates to register), location: Edwardsville Public Library
SIUE Speaker:
Dr. Howard Rambsy - June 3 @ the Wildey Theatre

Speaker Biography:
Howard Rambsy II is a Professor of Literature at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he has worked since 2003. He has taught a wide range of Black literature classes as well as courses on rap music and comic books. He has coordinated more than 200 public humanities projects, including exhibits, audio productions, and reading groups, concentrating on African American literature and cultural history. He is the author of The Black Arts Enterprise (2011) and most recently, Bad Men: Creative Touchstones of Black Writers (2020).

Book Summary from the Publisher:
When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades.
Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.

Available Digitally:
OverDrive/Libby (ebook & audiobook)
CloudLibrary (ebook & audiobook)

Request in Catalog
Dr. Maatita's Presentation Power Point
Dr. Rambsy's Blog Entries for Nickel Boys Dr. Rambsy's Presentation Slides