The Black Caucus of the American Library Association
(BCALA) received a Planning Grant from the Institute
of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

Grant Writing

Outcomes of the Grant

(1) a comprehensive literature review
(2) a taxonomy of BHM programming
(3) a sampling plan
(4) a draft of an IMLS Applied Research proposal to conduct a systematic study of BHM programming on a national level

About us

Overview of Grant

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association (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.  While virtually every public library across the U.S. conducts some program during BHM, there has never been a systematic study to assess the content, scope, target age groups, and focus of that programming.  This Planning Grant brought together partners from key American Library Association Divisions and Offices, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the University of Michigan’s Program for Research on Black Americans (PRBA), and other experts in the field to explore and catalogue current BHM programming.

With an increasingly diverse U.S. population, and an expectation that the United States will become a “majority minority” country by 2044, it is essential for libraries to offer quality programming that recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of its increasingly diverse patrons.  This kind of programming has the potential to bring more members of the community into the library, and provide for a richer exchange.

With its 50 years of expertise, commitment, and advocacy, the BCALA, in conjunction with the strong National Advisory Committee identified, is confident that we can undertake an examination of current practices, and then eventually improve and strengthen BHM programming in public libraries for the next 50 years.

National Advisory Committee

We created a National Advisory Committee (NAC) to ensure this project’s success and guarantee national impact.  The NAC represents strategic partnerships and a strong collaboration of professionals with the right expertise to conduct the planning and initial study.  The 16-member NAC includes representatives from the BCALA, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), people representing different ALA Divisions and Offices, and researchers from the Program for Research on Black Americans (PRBA) at the University of Michigan.  The NAC was involved in all aspects of this grant including: identifying focus group members, refining and disseminating the questionnaire and providing feedback on the literature review and taxonomy. 

Advisory Committee

5 Members

Black Caucus of the American Library Association


President, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Manager, School Support New York Public Library

Nichelle M. Hayes MPA, MLS

Vice-President – Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Director, Center for Black Literature and Culture Indianapolis Public Library

Tamela Chambers, MSLIS, M.Ed

Public Library Sub-Committee Chair, BCALA, Branch Manager, Beverly Branch, Chicago Public

Ray Pun

Raymond Pun, MLS, EDD

Instructional and Research Librarian, Alder Graduate School of Education

Grace Jackson-Brown, PhD, MLS

Professor, Research and Instruction Unit, Missouri State University Libraries

6 Members

American Library Association

Association for Library Services to Children, Public Programs Office, Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services, Project Outcome, Public Library Association, and Young Adult Library Services Association were all represented on the National Advisory Committee. Listed below are members’ current position.


Mary Davis Fournier, M.Ed

Executive Director, Public Library Association
American Library Association

Jordan McKenna, MLIS
Children’s Librarian
Chicago Public Library

Amber Hayes

Communications Coordinator
Skokie Public Library

Nellie Barrett
Program Officer
Public Library Association
American Library Association

Amita Lonial, MLIS
PLA Board Member Term (2019–2022)
Assistant Library Director
Tacoma Public Library

Amanda Barnhart, MLIS
YALSA President 2020-2021
North-East Branch Manager
The Kansas City Public Library

3 Members

Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)


Aaisha Haykal, MLS

Vice President for Programs (2022 – 2023) and Executive Board, ASALH
Manager of Archival Services
Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
College of Charleston

Lionel Kimble

Lionel Kimble, Jr., PhD

Vice-President for Programs (2020 – 2021), ASALH
Associate Professor of History
Chicago State University

Lavonne Neal

La Vonne I. Neal, PhD

Co-Editor of the Black History Bulletin, ASALH
Professor Emerita & Associate Vice President (RET), Northern Illinois University

2 Members

Program for Research on Black Americans

Deborah Robinson, MBA, PhD

Research Investigator
Assistant Director, Program for Research on Black Americans (PRBA) for International Projects
Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan

Belinda Tucker

M. Belinda Tucker, PhD

Special Liaison, Faculty Development, Office of Academic Personnel Vice Provost Emerita, Institute of American Cultures Professor Emerita of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences
Center for Social Medicine UCLA

Project Team

Grace Jackson-Brown, PhD

Co-Director, BHM/IMLS Grant
Professor, Library Science, Missouri State University

Before coming to MSU, Dr. Jackson-Brown served for eighteen years with Indiana University Libraries where she was Branch Library Head of both the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library and the Weil Journalism Library. She is an academic librarian who describes herself as having a passion for library programming and community outreach. She is the Chairperson of the Springfield African American Read-In Committee for the past 11 years and the Co-Founder and past president of the Indiana Black Librarians’ Network. She holds a PhD in Mass Communication from the Indiana University School of Journalism and a master’s degree in Information Management from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. Grace has been a continuous member of ALA for 21 years and a member of BCALA for 17 years.

Grace Jackson Brown

Deborah Robinson, MBA, PhD

Co-Director, BHM/IMLS Grant
Research Investigator, Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan

Dr. Robinson is Assistant Director of the Program for Research on Black Americans for International Projects and has over 15 years’ experience in survey research methodology having worked on major national studies such as the National Survey of Black Americans and National Black Election Study. She is also a senior administrator, so in addition to the research appointment at ISR, she is the Faculty Administrative Coordinator for the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research, coordinating programmatic initiatives among the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University. She holds a PhD from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Geneva. Deborah has been a member of ALA, BCALA, and ASALH for 4 years.

Amber Bryant, PhD

Research Assistant, BHM/IMLS Grant (2020-2021) Project Manager, Institute of Social Research, University of Michigan

Dr. Bryant is the manager for the Partnership for Expanding Education Research in STEM (PEERS) Data Hub within Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).  She served as Research Assistant on the Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded project, A Taxonomy of Black History Month Programming in Public Libraries.  Before joining the team at ICPSR, Amber completed her PhD in curriculum and instruction at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. At UNCC, her doctorate program focused on urban education and literacy. Prior to completing her PhD, Amber worked as a high school English teacher in Mooresville, North Carolina. She studied abroad during her undergraduate program at Howard University in Dakar, Senegal for French language, and spent a month in rural Kenya filming a documentary on safe drinking water for children.

Dylitchrous Thompson, MLIS, MA.Ed

Program Assistant, BHM Project (2020-2021)

Dylitchrous Thompson is an independent librarian and small business owner. She served as Program Assistant on the Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded project, A Taxonomy of Black History Month Programming in Public Libraries. Her most recent employment as an information analyst was with Zach S. Henderson Library at Georgia Southern University in the Research Services Department. Ms. Thompson holds graduate degrees in Library and Information Science and Adult Education and Training. Her interests include helping people gain access to information, education, and training with a focus on adult education, service to older adults and non-traditional students.