We are approaching 100 years since the first Negro History Week/Black History Month. At the same time, we are at a crossroads as to what BHM programming should look like in the future. This project is a critical step in examining that future. We are able to study BHM in public libraries given the groundwork of our ancestors. We honor their vision and commitment to commemorating African American achievements. The Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) is dedicated to determining how we can best carry on this great legacy. BCALA received a Planning Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to begin exploring the current state of Black History Month (BHM) programming offered at public libraries and identify significant gaps.
Click the arrows to explore additional dates along the timeline.
Benjamin Franklin and Junto Club members start the first public library in America, The
Library Company of Philadelphia.
Louisville Western Branch Library is built with funding from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to serve the African American community. It is fully staffed by African Americans with Rev. Thomas Fountain Blue as the director.
The Public Library Association was founded.
In Anniston, Alabama, African American ministers Rev. Nimrod Reynolds and Rev. William McCain are both attacked by a white mob for attempting to integrate the Anniston Public Library.
Hardy R. Franklin President of the American Library Association (1993/1994).
The literature review on BHM programming in public libraries can be divided into three periods:
The Black History Month Taxonomy allows librarians to evaluate the kinds of BHM programming they conduct and see if there is too much reliance on one type of programming. For librarians not doing BHM programming, it will give them a quick idea of what is possible.
While there is a need to do Black History Month Programming given the demographic shifts occurring in the United States and the contributions African Americans have made to society, we were surprised to find from our preliminary research that 13% of the District/Library Systems and 22% of the branches do not conduct BHM programming. We also discovered other important information.