If we had a dollar for everyone who says, “I had no idea this place existed!” after discovering the African American Cultural Center’s Library and Media Room on the second floor of Witherspoon Student Center, we would be very rich indeed. Often called one of NC State’s “hidden gems,” the secluded space provides a home for a surprisingly large and steadily-growing collection of books, publications and media related to the African diaspora. Austin Butler recently spoke with Mariska Thayagan, a second-year student in microbiology with a concentration in microbial research from both Canada and South Africa, to find out what the library means to her.
“I find the library important because there are not a lot of cultural spots on campus. To have a space dedicated to the African and African-American diaspora is important because African-American history plays such an important part in North Carolina and across the country. It’s nice to have a place where that is recognized,” Thayagan said.
Thayagan began working at the African American Cultural Center Library and Media Room this past August. “I love it. It’s such a nice atmosphere. I’m in charge of the desk during my shift. I run the catalog, check books in and out, handle holds and process books,” she said.
In addition to being a good place for studying, Thayagan said the library is a cozy and comfortable place. “The environment is really welcoming. Ms. Angela Jenkins, the librarian, is such a lovely person. She’ll get to know you as a person instead of just as a patron. And the books are wonderful – you can actually sit there and just read for hours – which I’ve actually done before,” laughed Thayagan.
Some of Thayagan’s favorite books include Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe and Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. “It connects to my South African history, and the fact that the library has this book opens a door for me personally. It makes me feel like I’m important, and even though I’m not African American, the library makes me feel that my culture and my history are important,” Thayagan said.
“Mariska has worked in public libraries. She came to us and asked if we had anything available, which was very forward-thinking. She’s very amiable, and she brings forth ideas of her own. We love to unite the working library student with people that come into the library, so they can exchange ideas, and maybe break down barriers, so that students who don’t typically want to come to the library for various reasons might meet with their fellow student and chat or find things in common,” said Librarian Angela Jenkins.
Have you visited yet? You can find the AACC Library and Media Room adjacent to the Art Gallery.
- Learn more about the AACC Library and Media Room.
Austin Butler is a communications intern in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity. She is a senior majoring in science, technology and society.