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Creating Access to HBCU Library Alliance Archives: Needs, Capacity, and Technical Planning

Sharon Ferguson Freeman

March 2022. 69 pp. (electronic only)
CLIR pub 180

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Creating Access to HBCU Library Alliance Archives: Needs, Capacity, and Technical Training

This study explores the common barriers and shared visions for creating access to archival collections held by libraries at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). One of few reports that document the needs of HBCU libraries as they relate to archives and special collections, it is based on a series of online focus groups that author Sharon Ferguson Freeman facilitated with HBCU library directors and deans in 2021. The study provides insight into the significance of special and archival collections for HBCU librar­ies and their communities; the management and capacity of archives and special collections; and these libraries’ values, priorities, needs, and aspirations. The findings also reveal information related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HBCUs and broader topics of significance that were not anticipated when the project began.

In parallel with Freeman’s research, Portia D. Hopkins and Synatra A. Smith conducted a series of interviews with staff working at five HBCUs, investigating their libraries’ unique priorities, resources, and work processes. Smith and Hopkins prepared an internal report with a detailed set of strategic and technical recommendations for the HBCU Library Alliance. An executive summary of their findings is appended to the report and available separately as a downloadable PDF.

This two-part study grew out of a partnership formalized in 2019 between the HBCU Library Alliance and CLIR, and a 2020 Mellon Foundation grant for a study to inform a sustainable shared infrastructure for creating access to HBCU Library Alliance members’ archival collections.

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