Following an accusation of racial discrimination against the Oak Park Main Library by a parent this summer, the library's chief officer insists the claim is unfounded and was instead an instance of a young child being left unattended at the library.
At a July meeting of the Oak Park Public Library board, a parent complained to the board that she and her two children were the targets of racial discrimination while visiting the library.
Helena Wilson-Moody visited the main branch, 834 Lake St., with her children on July 10.
According to David Seleb, the library's executive director, Wilson-Moody's "minor children" were left unattended in the library. Five days later, during the trustees' meeting, Wilson-Moody accused the library of racial discrimination.
"She believes that she and her children were treated unfairly and unequally under our policy because of their race," Seleb said in an email Wednesday.
According to Seleb, the issue was not the race of the patrons, but that Wilson-Moody's children were unattended.
In a letter to Wilson-Moody on Aug. 5, Lane Hart, president of the library board, said that her two children were in the library "without adult supervision from at least 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. And, perhaps, until at least 4:40 p.m."
Seleb cited the library's policy concerning this area in an email correspondence.
The library's policy states that, "unattended children under the age of eight may be asked to remain at the nearest Service Desk while staff attempt to locate the caregiver. When the safety of an unattended child is in doubt, or the parent or responsible caregiver cannot be located, or if the library is closing, library staff are authorized to call the police and stay with the child until the police arrive."
One of Wilson-Moody's children is under 8-years-old—her three-year-old daughter. Her son, however, is 10-years-old.
While in the library the 10-year-old left the younger sibling in the Children's Department on the first floor to play computer games on the second floor, according to the library.
"The library's requirement that minor children under age eight be accompanied and directly supervised by a parent or caregiver," wrote Hart in the letter, "does not mean that children over the age of eight qualify as responsible caregivers."
Wilson-Moody was asked to leave the library with her children.
"The Board of Trustees listened to that complaint, investigated it by interviewing staff who were involved and determined that staff acted appropriately," Seleb said, adding that he determined there's no reason to further investigate the matter.
It took about three weeks for library officials to respond to Wilson-Moody—a time frame, as reported in the meeting's minutes, Wilson-Moody deemed unacceptable.
In his email, Seleb added that he's unaware of any other complaints of racial discrimination at the library.
When asked to provide contact information for Wilson-Moody, Seleb said that her contact information is "personal, private information about a library customer that we do not disseminate."
Wednesday Journal made three attempts to find Wilson-Moody for a comment, but was unsuccessful.
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