Abstract

In a Journal of Academic Librarianship article that appeared in 2000, Susan A. Vega García writes about the “dearth of empirical research that has examined multicultural diversity in terms of actual collecting patterns of academic and research libraries [...].” (Vega García, 2000) This article, nearly 20 years old, is one of the few that actually address the topic of African American Studies collections specifically in the LIS literature. Though there is, in fact, a literature of “diversity” in library collections, it lumps together an array of groups whose only commonality is having been labelled Other in the U.S. This lumping is a morally blinkered, intellectually lazy move that both ignores the specificity of different groups’ experiences and perspectives and centers whiteness and the West.

With the non–African American Studies librarian in mind, this paper highlights African American Studies collections’ importance to both the U.S. educational institutions’ intellectual life and the larger society in which they are located; encourages creative and critical thinking; and helps to conceptualize collaborations with African American Studies specialist or liaison colleagues and techniques for promoting these collections to internal and external audiences.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.5703/1288284317012

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African American Studies Collections and the American Season of Redemption

In a Journal of Academic Librarianship article that appeared in 2000, Susan A. Vega García writes about the “dearth of empirical research that has examined multicultural diversity in terms of actual collecting patterns of academic and research libraries [...].” (Vega García, 2000) This article, nearly 20 years old, is one of the few that actually address the topic of African American Studies collections specifically in the LIS literature. Though there is, in fact, a literature of “diversity” in library collections, it lumps together an array of groups whose only commonality is having been labelled Other in the U.S. This lumping is a morally blinkered, intellectually lazy move that both ignores the specificity of different groups’ experiences and perspectives and centers whiteness and the West.

With the non–African American Studies librarian in mind, this paper highlights African American Studies collections’ importance to both the U.S. educational institutions’ intellectual life and the larger society in which they are located; encourages creative and critical thinking; and helps to conceptualize collaborations with African American Studies specialist or liaison colleagues and techniques for promoting these collections to internal and external audiences.