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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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Members of the Black Repertory Total Theatrical Experience stand in dance postures on campus. (Photo: University Archives Photograph Collection, University Library) Members of the Black Repertory Total Theatrical Experience stand in dance postures on campus. (Photo: University Archives Photograph Collection, University Library)

Plans in Place to Grow Black Studies Collection

Aligned with SDSU’s strategic plan goals, plans expand decades of University Library efforts to share the experiences and contributions of African Americans.
By SDSU News Team

The San Diego State University Library will soon convene a working group responsible for establishing a new, dedicated space for the SDSU Black Studies Collection, currently planned to open to the public in 2022.
The new space, to be housed in Love Library, aligns with SDSU’s research and academic strategic plan priorities. The collection itself will feature interdisciplinary resources and materials that speak to the experiences of Black communities across the U.S. including those at SDSU and in the San Diego region.
“I am looking forward to curating the Black Studies Collection as a resource for all our library users,” said Gloria Rhodes, SDSU’s Outreach and Diversity Initiatives Librarian and chair of the University Senate’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.
“I share a special thank you to the library leadership for the vision in making the library an inclusive place for all our library users,” Rhodes said, adding that the collection will serve as a critical asset for bringing scholars and students together.
This initiative follows the creation of the Chicana and Chicano Studies Collection space and is consistent with significant progress on University Library goals related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Other outcomes include the recent launch of the Social Justice Collection, approval of the Library Diversity Plan, and the Library Diversity Council’s establishment.
“This new Black Studies Collection space will demonstrate the powerful impact the library can have, especially when working in collaboration with our faculty colleagues and our colleagues in Student Affairs, to promote an environment that is welcoming to all our students,” said Scott Walter, University Library dean. “The space will be designed to promote curricular and co-curricular initiatives promoting inquiry into Black Studies and engagement with SDSU programs supporting diversity, equity, inclusion and student success.”

Such efforts are supportive of inquiry into the experience of a diverse U.S. society, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Celebrating history and heritage

“The library holds rich archival and print collections documenting the local Black community, civil rights and the Black experience at SDSU. The Black Studies Collection will expand and highlight these efforts, and provide a dedicated space for students to celebrate Black history and heritage,” said university archivist Amanda Lanthorne.

The Black Studies Collection also builds upon decades of University Library work to acquire and promote the use of materials related to the collection. Over the past 50 years, SDSU library faculty, including Rhodes, retired librarian Robert Fikes and others, have built a Black Studies collection designed to support teaching, learning, and scholarship across the university.
“As an alum and current employee, access to the strong scholarship inspired by scholars from the CSU and around the world is vital to our work for and with the next generation,” said Brandon Gamble, Charles Bell Faculty Scholar at SDSU. “When I was a graduate student I was mentored by Africana Studies faculty who directed me towards empirical literature in Black psychology, Black sociology, Black social work, Black studies, etc. The academic rigor gave me a foundation which embedded my career with a sense of purpose and direction.
“Theory inspires plans and plans lead to action,” Gamble added. “Our Black Resource Center is an extension of the powerful scholarship undertaken in resistance and creativity in the last century to inspire our efforts today. I look forward to what comes next as our library is strengthened with this collection.”
Rhodes will co-lead the design and development of the collection space with Patrick McCarthy, associate dean of the University Library. They will work together this fall to co-lead the design and development of the collection space.
Rhodes and McCarthy will work together this fall to develop a working group to include members of the library and faculty who are in various departments across campus. This group will design the process to allow substantive input from faculty and students to determine themes from the collection to highlight in the physical space. Rhodes has already begun seeking input from various campus constituents, with a particular focus on faculty.
“While the Black Studies Collection will house only a fraction of the resources SDSU holds in this broadly interdisciplinary area of scholarship – print, digital, and archival – it will serve as a highly visible gateway into the full collection,” Walter said.
“Through this work, we are promoting an environment that is welcoming to all our students as well as supportive of inquiry into the experience of a diverse U.S. society both inside and outside of the classroom,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to collaborate with our campus partners to build a library that is increasingly recognized as essential to the university’s strategic commitment to ‘equity and inclusion in everything we do’.”