By Aspasia Luster and Josette Kubicki
How did Black History Month at Reese Library in Augusta University, turn from library displays and passive programming quietly in the background, into a Culmination Reception, which put a spotlight on our displays, involving inspiring speeches and a party of catered refreshments, which we typically cannot afford?
It all began in December 2018, when the Academic Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Alignment Committee chair gave a “challenge” to each member – to highlight diversity and inclusion in some way the following year. The committee is composed of faculty and staff from a range of departments and colleges across Augusta University, with two members representing the Libraries. The committee advises one of the Vice Presidents on priorities and initiatives for addressing diversity and inclusion opportunities within the academic programs, recruitment policies, curricular and co-curricular activities, service and outreach, scholarly efforts, and faculty development.
For years, Reese Library has carefully curated a book display for Black History Month. In 2018 we introduced passive programming by having a Black History jigsaw puzzle near the display. For the challenge, we suggested a display and expansion of the passive programming with a different puzzle, coloring and activity sheets on a Black History theme. The committee suggested incorporating students’ wants into the library’s annual Black History Month Display.
In early January 2019, we placed tear-off sheets on easels in high traffic areas of the library. On each easel we wrote “What would you like to see in our library’s Black History Month displays? Share with us: book or movie titles, people, places, subjects, or themes.” Students suggested specific titles and topics, “local black history”, “a speech by Dr. Seretha Williams”, (a professor from the English and Foreign Languages department), and “free food”. After two weeks of response collection, we shared the responses with the committee.
The Director of Multicultural Student Engagement offered to collaborate with us by hosting a reception to highlight the displays, and from there the Reese Library Black History Month Displays and Reception was born. Reese Library partnered with the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement in event planning, from the speakers, refreshments, to the advertising. For the request on local black history, we invited Corey Rogers, a historian from the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History as a guest speaker, and we secured Dr. Seretha Williams for the keynote. The event was open to the public and advertised around campus through flyers, digital and social media. Event attendance exceeded our expectations, chair count, and floor space!
The library display cases on the first and second floors were filled with headshots of notable African American authors and artists and prints of their paintings, and biographies, films, and books about various African American cultures in the United States, the African diaspora, and Caribbean history.
If you are interested in learning more, Josette Kubicki and Aspasia Luster will present more information in a Quick Takes panel titled, “Building Better Library Outreach through Interdepartmental Collaboration” at the Georgia Libraries Conference in Macon, October 9-11, 2019.