The Fay P. and Robert A. Marchman Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fund Will Benefit the Maplewood Library

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From The Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation:

Maplewood residents Robert and Fay Marchman have graciously created the Fay P. and Robert A. Marchman Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fund, which will ensure our library truly is open to all. Robert Marchman sat down with the Maplewood Library Foundation to discuss the importance of DEI in the Maplewood community, and why the Maplewood Library is the perfect setting for this important cause.

Prospective Rendering of the new Maplewood Memorial Library

What does diversity in Maplewood mean to you? How have you seen diversity in Maplewood change over the years?

Diversity in our community acknowledges and recognizes that each member of our community is unique, and contributes to the betterment of the entire community. Regardless of one’s race,  gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, physical or other limitations, religious beliefs,  we all possess talents and skills that benefit our entire community. Maplewood and South Orange have not shied away from issues of race, which other communities avoid. We accept individuals from marginalized and underrepresented groups as human beings who can enhance the quality of life and well-being of the community. 

We have seen the ascendency of individuals from underrepresented groups to positions of influence regarding key aspects of community life, like mayors, village presidents, the chief of police, superintendents of schools, and heads of clergy organizations. The process is on-going as our challenges are ever-present and must involve intentional buy-in from all segments of the community to be sustainable.

What do you want to accomplish through your DEI grant to the Maplewood library? How do you see the grant impacting all citizens of Maplewood?

We want to educate the community on the importance of embracing and sustaining diversity. We hope the grant will be financially supported by all residents and lead to sustained diversity, equity and inclusion programming for the benefit of all residents of Maplewood. As beneficiaries of a public school education, we have experienced first-hand the value of access to education and knowledge. In order to break through the current environment of discord and division, we must create awareness that enables people to have more understanding of the plight of those different from us, and that we have many more things in common than assumed. As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. it is worth noting his observation that one of the major reasons for strife among the races was fear caused by a lack of understanding, interaction and communication.  Information, however troubling, can be the key to a new path of understanding, resulting in the breaking down of barriers and affording access and opportunity to all.

What makes libraries an ideal conduit for DEI initiatives?

Public libraries are the gateways to knowledge and information. Public libraries help raise the education levels of a community by providing individuals of any and all socio-economic backgrounds with access to a wealth of information and other resources that assist in the growth and development of one’s path to personal enlightenment and education. Accordingly, public libraries, particularly given their interaction with youth, play a key role in the life of a community and are strategically situated to assist a society’s efforts for constructive change that will result in benefits for all residents. A focus on diversity, equity and inclusion as a core value in programming will assist in the effort to educate society. As the Annie E. Casey Foundation noted: “If our nation is to live up to its democratic ideals–that all people are created equal and treated fairly–racial equity and inclusion must be at the forefront of how we shape our policies, institutions and culture.” Public libraries must lead the way in this effort.

What books have helped give you a different perspective about a person or group of people?

We have read many books over the years that provided different perspectives on people with different backgrounds and characteristics. One book that made a lasting impact was “Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality” by Richard Kluger. The book chronicles the unthinkable struggles of African-Americans to achieve equality under the law with regard to education. The book shows how people of different background and in positions of power and influence due to structural and institutional systems, can rise to the occasion when least expected to make momentous decisions that will benefit marginalized groups. Ultimately, those results benefit us all.


Consistent with the goals of the DEI Fund, the Maplewood Library Foundation encourages all to participate in the Black History Month programs offered by the Maplewood Library. 

The Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation is building a 21st Century library that is Open For All. To learn more information about the Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation or to donate, please visit our website at

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