Type Punch Matrix’s Commitments to Social Justice Accountability 

The following document grew out of values originally articulated in our company handbook, business plan, and elsewhere.* We post it here both to hold ourselves accountable and to foster further conversation. These commitments are ongoing and evolving. They encompass our responsibilities to our daily practice, our company culture, and to the larger rare books and manuscripts community. 

OUR PRACTICE

  • We commit to regularly reviewing our curated marketing materials, including but not limited to book fair item selections and catalogues, for mindful and inclusive representation. 

  • We commit to the ongoing research and development of best practices for buying and selling primary materials from oppressed and disenfranchised communities.

  • We commit in our cataloguing to describing explicitly as racist works that were conceived and sold on the basis of racism, and commit to following the same methodology for other forms of hatred and oppression. We commit to acquiring such works only with careful thought, research, and consideration as to why we would handle them. We commit to making special efforts to place them in appropriate institutional collections. When we sell this material, we commit to donating regularly to nonprofits that specialize in relevant social justice work, based upon a percentage of the profits.

  • We commit to putting all our items with problematic content, regardless of intention, in their proper contexts. We commit to displaying such material thoughtfully, whether online or in person, and whenever feasible to labeling these works with a content warning when we offer them. We commit to engaging the expertise of paid consultants (i.e. sensitivity readers) to review descriptions which contain sensitive material outside of our cataloguers’ lived experiences.

  • We commit to keeping abreast of the latest scholarship in fields where out-of-date vocabulary can cause pain or trauma to our audience, including but not limited to how we write about slavery, naming policies for trans people, and naming policies for Indigenous people. We commit to creating in-house style sheets in order to synthesize current scholarship with daily practice in a systematic fashion, and to reviewing these regularly. 

  • We commit to giving credit. We commit to citing sources when an original idea comes from another scholar’s research, whether that scholar be an academic or another antiquarian bookseller. We commit to seeking out more sources from underrepresented voices. 

  • We commit to inviting input from our readers, for example as we have by including the following text in each of our catalogues: "We strive to be inclusive and accurate in all of our cataloguing. If you encounter descriptions you feel misrepresent or omit important perspectives, or use language that could be improved, please email us." ** 

OUR COMPANY

  • We commit to continually examine our own hiring practices to root out biases, and to urge our colleagues in the trade to do the same. 

  • We commit to paying a living wage to all full-time employees. We commit to equitable payment of all employees and consultants. 

  • We commit to listening to our employees when they experience microaggressions or worse, and to taking seriously our responsibility as employers to find a resolution. We acknowledge that we must establish a track record, and therefore we commit to creating an environment (including clear policies outlined in our employee handbook) in which employees trust us enough that they are comfortable asking us for that resolution. We commit to maintaining access for our employees to an external, neutral, 3rd-party HR entity.

OUR COMMUNITY

  • We commit to an ongoing examination of our interactions with the public for elements of gatekeeping and other barriers to broader accessibility.

  • We commit to seeking regular opportunities to provide financial contributions to diversity initiatives within the rare book trade (like the Belle De Costa Green or David Ruggles scholarships at CABS), within scholarship on the history of the book (for example, Rare Book School’s Global Book Histories Initiative or The Black Bibliography Project), and to institutions and organizations committed to preserving material from underrepresented communities or oppressed groups (such as NMAAHC, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library, GLBT Historical Society, etc.).

  • We commit to speak publicly about inequities in the trade — especially the overwhelming whiteness of the rare book trade in the United States — and to accompanying action, encouraging but not waiting for other companies or trade organizations to do their part.

  • Recognizing our privileges, we commit to using them to support and amplify underrepresented voices within the broader rare book community.

This is a living, public document that will be updated and revised as we learn how to be better.

Email us: info@typepunchmatrix.com.

— Rebecca Romney & Brian Cassidy
     Co-Founders, Type Punch Matrix

 

* We would like to thank Grace Barham of Pococke Rare Books for a tweet that spurred us to publish the values in this document that had previously lived only internally. Further, for their feedback on earlier drafts we thank Brooke Palmieri, Claire Cassidy, Ashleigh Cox, Amir Naghib, Sarah Robbins, and Zoe Selengut. For the philosophies underlying this document, we would like to acknowledge the work of scholars on the academic/institutional side of rare books: a far-from-comprehensive list includes Ana Lucia Araujo, Dorothy Berry, Michelle Caswell, Jarrett M. Drake, P. Gabrielle Foreman, Marisa Fuentes, Kate Ozment, and Sarah Robbins. For more sources, we recommend the reading list of the Archives & Social Justice Reading Group, as well as the Diversify Your Book History Syllabus spreadsheet from Hannah Alpert-Abrams et al. Any errors, omission, or problems, however, remain our sole responsibility.

** A sentence inspired in part by a similar one posted at the Tate Modern in London.