Lambeth Librarian Zoey Dixon has been busier than usual this month – coordinating a packed schedule of events in honour of Black History Month 2020.

Working in local libraries for over 20 years, Zoey, 36, makes a conscious effort to celebrate Black achievements not just in October, but all through the year.

And though this month’s line-up looks slightly different - attendance to talks, interviews and workshops are online rather than in person - she is impressed by the programme’s reach.

So far, events have attracted audiences all the way from Canada and have proved more accessible for people with disabilities or stay-at-home commitments.

Lambeth libraries’ digital coordinator, Zoey’s talks have included an online interview with local author Alex Wheatle, whose young adult novel Cane Warriors explores the 18th century Jamaican slave uprising.

Next week, Zoey will do an Instagram live reading of Catherine Johnston’s Race to the Frozen North, a children’s book about a black explorer and the first man to reach the North Pole.

The librarian – who was named a “Rising Star” by The Bookseller magazine - is a pioneer for diversity in children’s books.

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Only 4% of all children books published have non-white characters and only 1% feature a BAME protagonist, says Zoey.

Once wanting to be an educational psychologist, she is committed to selecting children’s books which represent the diversity of the population in Lambeth - and beyond.

“We’re ahead of publishers, which are working far too slow,” she says.

But Zoey acknowledges that the borough has stayed ahead of the curve; trying to appreciate the talents of the Black community constantly, not just as a one off.

“We’ve always done a really good Black History Month, and we offer events and courses throughout the year, so it’s not just an October special. Because for us Black history is history,” she added.

Although, undoubtedly there is a different political undertone to Black History Month after the events of 2020. The protests that swept the world this summer in response to the death of George Floyd, have inspired many councils, companies and residents to do better.

Zoey is paying tribute to this, by curating signs and placards from the Black Lives Matter demonstrations for an exhibition in Minet Library. She organises groups of school children to visit and discuss their implications.

However, she is keen to keep the overall tone of Black History Month celebratory:

“There are people that want to have those conversations in the context of this year, but it can be quite triggering and traumatic. We want to applaud Black people and their achievements – in music, literature and the arts. It’s important that we don’t just get tied down in the struggle.”

You can find out more about the Black History Month events Lambeth has to offer here.