African American Cultural Center Library Supports New Research Emphasis

African American Cultural Center Staff

With a freshly transformed office suite, the African American Cultural Center has widened both its physical space and its scope. Assistant Director Sachelle Ford catalyzed the center’s emphasis on scholarship through her focus on faculty, graduate and undergraduate research engagement.

Ford states, “We’ve updated the description of the AACC Library on the NCSU Libraries website to emphasize the strengths of the collection. It’s a fantastic collection capable of supporting teaching and research in a wide variety of disciplines related to the examination of African and African diasporic culture and history. Our goal is to alert the community to the fact and encourage them to browse our shelves.”

The AACC Library and Media Room, located on the second floor of Witherspoon Student Center, is preparing to meet an increased need for research support. University Library Technician Angela Jenkins looks forward to serving more researchers who visit to access the collection.

The library’s interdisciplinary holdings complement other collections in the region, with some original and rare assets. Strengths include African American and African diasporic books and authors spanning literature and literary criticism, local and regional southern history, slave narratives, African textiles and design, freedom movements, political leaders, the Obama presidency, psychology, environmental justice, religion, art and music.

Jenkins notes that the library has seen an increase in requests from patrons originating in the College of Natural Resources, the College of Textiles, and the College of Design. Using the NCSU Libraries book transfer service, patrons at any campus library can request a book to be delivered to that branch.

Based on current requests, new acquisitions will include books on the American civil rights movements, including Black Power, Black Panther and Black Lives Matter; and books on visual arts, music, politics and leadership.

Library History

The AACC Library began as a small collection of ten books started by its first director, Ilayu Moses, with the intention of providing a reading room for students to explore and discover their race and culture.

Now over 7,000 books, 2,000 of which are unique to NC State, over 350 videos, periodicals and a robust juvenile collection, the center has the ability to provide both primary and secondary sources for a range of topics. All titles are indexed in the NCSU Libraries online system.

AACC Director Moses Greene states, “We look forward to partnering with faculty, staff and students to increase both utilization and holdings in our collection. We invite people to come talk to us about their research and to know that we are a resource that they have.”

States Jenkins, “Scholars can start or end their research here, in addition to visiting NC State’s larger collections. Initially, our goal was to make the AACC collection more accessible. Now that more of the community is aware of our presence as a great study space, we are evolving to support grad students and faculty so that they think of AACC in addition to their other resources for research.”

She stands ready to help fulfill unusual requests, such as requests for old photos, background information and historical information on key figures.

Jenkins sees more books moving in and out of the library on all subjects, but particularly the popular, historical and interdisciplinary topics. She says students come in seeking specific books on a regular basis. “We can’t keep Trevor Noah on the shelf right now,” she mentions.

In addition to serving patrons, the library hosts student groups throughout the day. It is a hub for Wake Early College High School, which holds classes on campus, and recently served as an evening meeting place for the Read to Lead program led by Multicultural Student Affairs, which partners NC State students as literacy mentors for underserved elementary and middle school students.

Upcoming Offerings

Jenkins revealed that the staff will develop research workshops for graduate students and a research guide to assist anyone wanting to maximize their work with the collection.