The Black Librarian in America: Reflections, Resistance, and Reawakening is the latest in the powerful line of The Black Librarian in America volumes.
While previous editions we organized around library types, this edition is organized in four thematic sections”:
Issues pertaining to Black librarians’ intersectional identities, capacities, and contributions take center stage.
The Black Librarian in America: Reflections, Resistance, and Reawakening is not only the first edition to be edited entirely by Black women, but it is officially produced by BCALA members in commemoration of the organization’s 50th anniversary. Dr. Carla Hayden (14th Librarian of Congress) and Julius Jefferson, Jr. (president of the American Library Association for the 2020-2021 term) contribute moving foreword and afterword segments.
The Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) serves as an advocate for the improvement of library services and resources to the nation’s African American community. It also provides leadership for recruiting and fostering African American or Black librarians. BCALA is the oldest of the national ethnic groups affiliated with the American Library Association. Throughout its 50-year history, it has served as a conscience for the library profession, speaking out on issues that affect librarians and communities of color. BCALA continues to be a thriving organization of more than 700 members across all 50 states. The organization remains steadfast and unwavering in its commitment to social justice and has been instrumental in decrying recent police brutality, xenophobia, and political disenfranchisement.
Shauntee Burns-Simpson (MLIS) currently serves as the 2020-2022 president of BCALA. She is the associate director of School Support & Outreach for the New York Public Library. An ambassador for libraries and youth librarian, Mrs. Simpson enjoys connecting people to the public library and its resources. She works closely with at-risk teens and fosters a love of reading & learning with her innovative programs. In addition to leading BCALA, she chairs ALA’s Committee on Diversity of the American Library Association.
Nichelle Hayes (MPA, MLS) is the BCALA president-elect (2022-2024) and current vice-president. She leads the Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC) at the Indianapolis Public Library. Hayes graduated from Indiana University’s School of Library & Information Science (SLIS) with her MLS. She began her library career as a library media specialist at an Elementary School in Indianapolis. Later she worked as an adult reference librarian specializing in business. She serves on a number of community boards throughout the state of Indiana. A few are the Indiana Black Librarians Network (IBLN) as treasurer, NAACP, Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. A public service organization (Lifetime Member PIF). She is a blogger at https://thetiesthatbind.blog/ where she discusses genealogy and keeping families connected.
Ana Ndumu (MLIS, Ph.D.) is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland College Park’s College of Information Studies who primarily researches and teaches on library services to immigrants—particularly, Black diasporic immigrants—along with methods for promoting representation and inclusion in LIS. A former HBCU (historically Black colleges and universities) librarian for over a decade, she is interested in the cross between Black identity, information access, and social inclusion. Ana is a BCALA executive board member and co-chair of the Professional Development & Recruitment Committee.
Shaundra Walker (MSLS, Ph.D.) is the library director at Georgia College. She holds a B.A. in history from Spelman College, a Masters in library and information studies from Clark Atlanta University, and Ph.D. in educational leadership with a concentration in higher education administration from Mercer University. Shaundra has over 15 years of experience working in libraries and higher education. Her work and research in libraries and education are deeply influenced by her experience attending and working in HBCUs. Her research interests include the recruitment and retention of diverse librarians and organizational development within the library.
Table of Contents
Foreword - Dr. Carla D. Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress
Introduction – Editors
II. Celebrating Collective and Individual Identity
III. Black Librarians across Settings
IV. Moving Forward: Anti-racism, Activism, and Allyship
Afterword - Julius C. Jefferson, Jr.
About the Editors and Contributors
In taking a holistic approach to the study of Black librarianship, the contributors also shine a light on the shortcomings of the profession as a whole while offering ways forward…. Standout essays include a conversation with Dr. Robert Wedgeworth, pioneering librarian and first Black executive director of ALA, "'I'm Rooting for Everybody Black': A Labor of Love," which acknowledges the extra labor Black librarians do for Black patrons and the reality of ‘doing more with less’ at HBCU libraries. The entire fourth section is worth the price of admission alone, including a conversation with current ALA executive director Tracie D. Hall and her mentor, Satia Marshall Orange, in which Hall proclaims that "Black librarianship is not a passive endeavor." Other contributions in that section cover the recruitment of Black MLIS students, social justice initiatives among patrons and staff in Colorado public libraries, and how archivists can support Black digital-memory workers, including a list of Instagram accounts of note. In its third iteration, The Black Librarian in America remains a vital document for understanding the past, present, and future of Black librarianship.
This volume is part of an ongoing sequence of books on the Black librarian. It commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), and it is the first title in the sequence to be edited by a Black woman. The essay topics are timely for the challenges that Black librarians continue to face in the field, and the information and perspectives are applicable across public, academic, and specialized libraries and archives. This latest Black Librarian in America title should be required reading not only for new Black librarians but also for those who seek to understand, support, and amplify Black librarians' historical foundations, current contributions, and ongoing needs within librarianship. Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, and professionals.
[T]he wealth of wisdom and lived experience of the stories that are represented in this volume are invaluable…. The Black Librarian in America: Reflections, Resistance, and Reawakening is a powerful reminder of all that Black librarianship has endured and is enduring, as well as a joyful celebration of survival and empowerment for the steps that are to come. Not much and so much has changed in 50 years for Black library workers; but, as always, hope for the future lies in careful reflection on the past.
This is a wonderful timely compendium of works that amplify Black voices in the library and information science profession. What's most impressive is how each author's effective synthesis of literature draws readers into their narrative. Given how rare it is to see scholarship on the Black librarianship, this is a significant contribution to the field.
The Black Librarian in America: Reflections, Resistance, and Reawakening is timely and relevant. It's about the groundwork of and for inclusivity. Black librarians in American demonstrate our resilience every day by navigating through social issues, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.
This rich volume celebrates the voices and important work of Black librarians in the profession. It is truly an inspiring collection that highlights critical activities, issues, and accomplishments, and will greatly contribute to the LIS field and scholarship.
3/2/22, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education: This book was featured in a roundup of "Recent Books of Interest to African American Scholars."