Louisville man holds fundraiser to bring books addressing racial equality, social justice to library

Kevin Gebert is trying to raise money to purchase books to donate to the Louisville Public Library which discuss racial inequality.   (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Kevin Gebert is trying to raise money to purchase books to donate to the Louisville Public Library which discuss racial inequality. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

After recent events around the country, a Louisville resident has put together a fundraiser to try and get some books which address racial equality and social justice into the Louisville Library.

“This is something that I’ve thought about for a long time,” said Kevin Gebert. “I really believe that people aren’t born racist. It’s something that’s a learned behavior.”

He said he believes education is a key to changing the cycle.

Recently, there have been marches and events held around the state to show solidarity against racial injustice, including in Erie, and more recently in Aurora where 23-year-old Elijah McClain was killed when walking home from a store.

Gebert’s original idea was to get in touch with local school districts, including Boulder Valley School District, and help bring in books as required reading. But, with the summer months and school not being in session, he began thinking about other options.

“I started thinking about the books in the library,” Gebert said. “So, I talked to the head of the Library and she told me they did research and said they had very few books.”

One book in particular, which has a long waiting list, is “The Warmth of Other Suns.”

“It’s a long book, so many people aren’t going to be able to read it until next year,” Gebert said.

Executive Director of the Louisville Library Sharon Nemechek said the demand for books on race equality and social justice have increased in the last month.

“With recent budget cuts, the library has been struggling to meet that demand,” Nemechek said. “I was struggling to figure out how we were going to meet that demand. I feel like people are hungry to learn.”

She said when Gebert reached out to the library, it couldn’t have came at a better time.

“To me, Kevin’s email just felt like this coming together of the community shows that the community really supports the library,” Gebert said.

Some titles the money could purchase include “The New Jim Crow,” “How to be an AntiRacist,” “The Burning House” and some biographies including “The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley.”

She said the library staff is currently looking at each of the titles to see what they can order more of.

“We want to be able to add copies of the books in all formats,” Nemechek said. “This includes large print and audio.”

Gebert said he believes having more access to these books will help.

“When I was 10 years old, I read a book called ‘Black Like Me,’ and we’re talking about 50 years ago,” Gebert said. “I read this book and it still has an impact on me. I think this is important.”

Neither Gebert nor the library have a quota they hope to meet, but both hope to be able to lower the hold list on all the books by collecting as much money as possible.

“The more we get, the better it is,” Gebert said.

Nemechek said the library tries to have a ratio of four people on the waiting list per book, which they are striving to be able to meet that goal.

“Whatever people can donate, we are just so grateful for whatever people can do,” Nemechek said. “We know a lot of people in the community are struggling right now. We just appreciate whatever people can do.”

For those interested in donating, a check can be made to the Louisville Public Library Foundation, and include EDI in the memo line.

“This stands for equity, diversity and inclusion,” Gebert said. “This will identify the donation as being a part of the fundraising effort.”

The checks can be mailed to the Louisville Library at 951 Spruce Street.