Black History Month Collaborations & Programming in an Academic Library

Black History Month Collaborations & Programming in an Academic Library

February is Black History Month, and many libraries across the country are hosting various programs and book displays. This year, I wanted to go beyond a book display and collaborate with other departments across campus. In this blog post, I will discuss ways an academic library can collaborate with other departments and bring awareness to an annual event called Douglass Day.

Within our library, we have a student engagement committee that devotes its time to creating student-focused events within and outside of the library. In addition, we strategically think of events that can showcase the library’s resources and services. Each month, we have organized planned activities and programming for the students and attend events that center our current and future students. 

Black History Month Film Series

In Fall 2021, we met with the Joey Jackson Intercultural Center coordinator to start collaborating on some events for the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students. We collaborated by providing the copyright information about the films they wanted to show during their Black History Month Film Series. In the future, some of the librarians would like to create a LibGuide to go with the film series if the Intercultural Center does this event next year. 

Check out Infobase’s Diversity Toolkit for resources that celebrate and support diversity at all levels.

Book Tastings Series

Another event that we came up with is our Book Tastings Series to celebrate cultural awareness months in the Spring semester. The idea is to have a faculty or staff person read an excerpt of the book to give the students a “taste” of the book so they can continue reading the book in their downtime. For the initiation of the series, the Intercultural Center’s coordinator picked the people to read the books, and I chose the featured books. February is Black History Month, March is Women’s History Month, and April is Diversity Month. This is the order of the book titles that will be read: 

  • Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619–2019, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
  • Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
  • American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures, edited by America Ferrera and E. Cayce Dumont. 

A LibGuide for the series was created, which provides supplemental resources to support the monthly readings. At the event, we will post two QR code flyers so students can scan them to check out the guide for the series. 

The coordinator of the Intercultural Center wants this to be a series that occurs every semester. For the Fall series, I will be selecting the faculty and staff who will participate, and then it will be up to them to choose a book. I would like to continue creating a new LibGuide for each series to support the readings. So in the Fall, we will do September to November, and in the Spring, we will do February to April. This series was a great way to collaborate. If your college or university has centers, see if you can collaborate with them on programming. 

Douglass Day

February 14 is Douglass Day; according to the Douglass Day website, “Douglass never knew his birthdate, he chose to celebrate every year on February 14th. We celebrate this date as a moment for creating Black history together.” The library has co-sponsored this event for years with other departments like History, African and African American Studies, and others. This event brings many people together to celebrate and commemorate one of those most pivotal and dynamic figures in American history during Black History Month. If your library can participate in Douglass Day, see if that can happen. 

Black History Month can be an opportunity for your academic library to do your programming; however, it can also be an opportunity to collaborate with other departments. 

Don’t miss our upcoming webinar “Don’t Believe the Hype: Educating Beyond DEI Through Justice and to Healing” on Thursday, March 3 @ 3 PM ET!

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