Education / National

CLIR and HBCU Library Alliance form national partnership

Collaboration will build awareness of African American contributions to history and culture by improving access to HBCUs’ unparalleled collections

Arlington, VA, July 30, 2019—The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the HBCU Library Alliance have entered into a long-term partnership that aims to position historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as centers of scholarly distinction with unparalleled special collections that illuminate clearly the value, significance, and contributions of HBCUs. This partnership will foster awareness and access to diverse historical records that shaped American history, thus informing dialog to promote the common good.

The HBCU Library Alliance and CLIR Partnership seeks to develop collaborative solutions to build community; cultivate leadership; and preserve, make accessible, and advocate for the rich cultural heritage—original bound volumes, documents, photographs, and audiovisual materials—held within HBCUs. Specific goals include (1) assessing the research value of and risks to these collections, (2) improving scholarly and public access through digitization, and (3) establishing a leadership training program for HBCU library staff.

“Partnering with the HBCU Library Alliance is a rare and privileged opportunity for CLIR,” said CLIR President Charles Henry. “The resources, historical significance, and collective wisdom of the Alliance are invaluably unique; working and evolving with the Alliance in mutual support of our shared mission and social commitment represents a pivotal moment in pursuit of a more expansive community devoted to the public good.”

Major Richard Robert Wright Sr., a former slave and the founding president of Savannah State, believed that there should be a day when freedom for all Americans is celebrated. The holiday proclamation was signed into law on June 30, 1948, by President Harry Truman. It was the forerunner to Black History Day and later Black History Month. Photo courtesy of Asa H. Gordon Library Special Collections, Savannah State University.

The future of preserving and sharing a more complete and authentic American history is contingent upon establishing partnerships like the HBCU Library Alliance and CLIR, said Monika Rhue, director of library services at Johnson C. Smith University and HBCU Library Alliance Board Chair. “The HBCU Library Alliance is delighted to partner with CLIR to advance common goals. It is my hope that this partnership demonstrates the impact of organizations protecting all collections that speak to the diversity of contributions to American history and worldwide history.”

“The HBCU Library Alliance is honored to engage with CLIR in this partnership to support mutual goals related to history, research and community,” said Executive Director Sandra Phoenix.  “We will anchor our work on CLIR’s goal to ‘transform the information landscape to support the advancement of knowledge.’ Our collaborative efforts will impact education and scholarship that highlight the contributions of African-Americans to history and culture.

The partnership grew out of events and programming run jointly by the HBCU Library Alliance and CLIR’s Digital Library Federation (DLF) since 2017. These initiatives, including the Authenticity Project Fellowship Program, aim to foster genuine, equitable, mutual learning and sharing among communities of practice.

A Partnership Steering Committee, comprising representatives from HBCU Library Alliance members and the CLIR/DLF community, will be named in the fall.

CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. In pursuing its mission, CLIR is committed to capitalizing on strategic opportunities, building trust, and cultivating effective leadership.

The HBCU Library Alliance is a consortium that supports the collaboration of information professionals dedicated to providing an array of resources to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and their constituents. As the voice of advocacy for member institutions, the HBCU Library Alliance is uniquely designed to transform and strengthen its membership by developing library leaders, helping to curate, preserve and disseminate relevant digital collections, and engaging in strategic planning for the future.

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