The Davis Family Library is celebrating Black History Month in February 2018 with a display of books, audio CDs, DVDs, podcast recommendations, multimedia-based interviews and programming. Come to the atrium to see what we have in store and get a sneak peek at go/bhmdigital/. Read below to find out about the variety of ways to engage.
Katrina (Literatures & Cultures Librarian), what are the libraries doing to celebrate Black History Month?
Let me highlight three projects in detail:
The Black History Month Display in the Davis Family Library atrium, February 1st- 28th, will include books, CDs, DVDs and podcast recommendations created by and about black writers, entertainers and artists. The scope is broad with works from the late sociologist W.E.B. DuBois (1868- 1963) and living, contemporary screenwriter Issa Rae (1985- ); jazz pioneer Miles Davis (1926- 1991) and Grammy award winning rapper Kendrick Lamar (1987- ); the cinematic classic The Color Purple (set in the 1930s and made in 1985) and filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s Selma (set in 1965 and made in 2014). We’ve also got Senegalese author Mariama Bâ’s French-language classic Une si longue lettre; Cuban singer Celia Cruz’s Azúcar Negra in Spanish; and Pelé: Birth of A Legend, a documentary on the Brazilian futbolista extraordinaire. Blackness, after all, is not contained to any one, geographic region. You can get a sneak peek at the books by visiting go.middlebury.edu/bhmdigital.
Second, In Your Own Words, an oral histories project, features interviews with students, staff and faculty from the Middlebury community responding to a variety of questions, among them:
- Racially and ethnically, how do you identify?
- How do notions of race and ethnicity change based on where you are and who you’re with?
- What do you wish others knew about race and ethnicity?
These audio recordings cover identities linked to the Southside of Chicago, the Afro-Caribbean and East Africa and can be found on StoryCorps and in the Archives along with pdf transcripts. They will also be aired on Wednesdays February 21st and February 28th from 2:00- 3:00 p.m. on the Middlebury College campus’ radio station, WRMC 91.1. If interested in delving more deeply into personal stories addressing African identities, seek out Life Stories, found in Special Collections, in which three alums, Barbara Ofosu-Soumah (Ghana), Mukui Mbindyo (Kenya) and Cheswayo Mphanza (Zambia), tell of their their experiences at Middlebury.
Third, a competitive trivia game event inspired by Jeopardy will be held this month. Participants will compete for coveted prizes including board games, coloring books and poetry collections. Audience members can participate in a raffle for tickets to the opening night of Black Panther at The Marquis. Twelve categories have been prepared for the game that cover themes like geography, popular culture, literature and more. Sponsors include the Middlebury College Libraries, Vice President for Human Resources and Risk Karen Miller and the Program in American Studies.
Who makes all this possible?
With fear of leaving someone out, let me describe some of the roles people take on:
- Kat Cyr, Rachel Manning and their student workers in Interlibrary Loan help to prepare bibliographies and pull featured items from the shelves.
- Digital Media Tutors like Pedro, Dan, Caleb, Alfredo, Fayza, Rachel and Emma, Cataloging Specialist Marlena Evans, Librarians Amy Frazier and Leanne Galletly and Alumna Coumba Winfield help with developing print banners and advertisements.
- Kim Gurney and Dan Frostman help to reserve props and digitally mark items as “on display.”
- Lisa McLaughlin, Michael Warner and Marlena help with much of the invisible magic of ordering items and cataloging print and multimedia purchases.
- Carrie Macfarlane helps me to problem solve and to manage my own creative ambitions. ;)
- Every person interviewed shared their personal testimonies, which is no small feat: Jade Moses, Shenisis Kirkland, Clark Lewis, Kemi Fuentes-George, Kizzy Joseph, Nicole Curvin and Sarady Merghani.
- Patrick Wallace prepared all of the audio files for the Archives.
- Bill Koulopoulos’ group provided the funds for transcription.
- Meg Daly and Maddy Goodhart planned the airing of the shows on WRMC.
- Austin Kahn posted advertisements for Jeopardy.
- Susan Burch educated me, as she always does, on the Life Stories project.
- And all this is without mentioning the many people who will be staffing the trivia event!
How can we help?
- Know your librarian. There are 12 of us and we all have different strengths and expertise.
- Make appointments. It is a tremendous help to be able to anticipate office visits.
- Heed advice. Want to develop a display? Read go/displays/. Or want new items purchased? Use go/requests/.
What did you learn in the process of prepping all this?
- Kathleen Collins was an African American cinematic directing pioneer and a Middlebury Language Schools alum who developed 1982’s film Losing Ground.
- Stand-up comedian, actress and talk show hostess Whoopi Goldberg directed a documentary about a humorist who influenced her by the name of Moms Mabley.
- Roxane Gay, writer of Bad Feminist, wrote a work of fictional short stories late last year called Difficult Women. It is en route to the Davis Family Library.
- There’s a book in our collection titled The Loneliness of the Black Republican.
- Julius Lester (1939- 2018), author of Black Folktales, recently passed away. With a book history project in grad school, Singed By the Fires, it was his work that first taught me I could incorporate blackness into librarianship. So, I dedicate this work to him.
About a year ago, I wrote that I hoped my work would be contagious. I wanted it to inspire others to further and more regularly engage with difference. People have been receptive to those cues and are creating ever more dynamic discourses on this campus.
From easiest to hardest, Leanne [Galletly] (User Experience and Digital Scholarship Librarian) and I want to make the spreadsheets used for the displays from the last year public. I want to find more time to read, research and contribute to national discourse on librarianship. Lastly, I need to recruit more professional peers who are people of color into my life.