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last updated: 4/19/2012

Collection Development Policies - African American Studies

African American Studies

  1. Introduction

    1. Purpose of the policy statement
      This policy statement outlines the scope of the African American Studies Collection of the Indiana University, Bloomington campus

    2. Audience
      The collection policy is written for librarians of Indiana University (IU), the faculty and students of the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, and other users of the IU Libraries.

    3. Description of institution/department and clientele
      The collection serves in the teaching and research field of African and African Diaspora Studies, which is an interdisciplinary field containing history, literature, religion, drama, folklore, music, dance and the fine arts and additionally explores the social and political problems of African Americans in the United States and African Diaspora worldwide. The collection supports the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, which confers degrees at the level of Bachelor of Arts, and the Master’s of Arts. The Master’s degree program was approved by the IU Board of Trustees in 1997. The interdisciplinary focus of the collection makes it a useful support to many academic disciplines, particularly in the social sciences and the arts. The department also offers dual Master’s degrees to students in the School of Library and Information Science and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. In addition, the department offers a Ph.D. minor.

    4. Brief overview of the collection

      1. History of the collection
        The Department of Afro-American Studies was founded in 1970. The African American Studies Collection in the IU Libraries on the Bloomington campus began in 1970 with the founding of the Afro-American Studies Department. In July, 2002, the department changed its name to the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, which encompasses the study of the experience of people of African ancestry in the United States, as well as of the African Diaspora, the trans-Atlantic experience of those of African ancestry worldwide. The collection relies heavily on the collections of African Studies and Latin American and Caribbean Studies to support teaching and research on the African Diaspora. The collection is limited in the sciences.

        Dr. Herman Hudson, who served as the first chairperson of the Afro-American Studies Department, also founded the Afro-American Arts Institute in 1972-73 with its three performing ensembles, the Afro-American Choral Ensemble, the Afro-American Dance Company, and the popular music group IU Soul Revue. The name of the institute was later changed to the African American Arts Institute. The directors of the aforementioned groups of the African American Arts Institute, in addition to directing concert performances, teach credit courses on the history of the African American experience and the traditions of the African American music and dance as part of the African American and African Diaspora Department.

      2. Collection strengths and weaknesses
        The original curriculum emphasis of the Afro-American Studies Department was in the arts and social sciences. In the department particular focus was placed on the humanities, particularly in African American ethnomusicology, theatre, and film. Gradually, the department’s focus has broadened in areas of the social sciences, as well as in the humanities.

      3. Subject areas emphasized or deemphasized
        Collections with a concentrated focus in the subject area of African American Studies can be found in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library, as well as complementary collections in the Herman B Wells Library; Research Collections, media unit, and microforms unit.

      4. Collection locations
        The collection of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library, located within the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, is particularly strong in the area of performing arts. Beginning in the 1990s, the African American Studies Collection collaborated with others in the IU Libraries to launch campus-wide access to full-text African American Studies databases that presently include these flagship databases: African American Newspapers: The 19th Century, African American Poetry, Black Culture and Thought, Black Drama, and the International Index to Black Periodicals.
  2. Scope of Coverage
    1. Languages collected and excluded
      Most publications are in English, a minor number are in Spanish, German, French, and Russian; with almost none in Middle Eastern or Far Eastern languages. There are a limited number of translations from German and Spanish.

    2. Geographical areas covered and excluded
      Perhaps 80% of the collections deal with the experience of African Americans in the United States. The remaining collections, which cover blacks worldwide outside of the continent of Africa, include populations within areas such as the Caribbean, Latin America, and Great Britain.

    3. Chronological periods covered and excluded
      There are very few titles before 1800; a rather good number in the 19th century because of the slaver issue; with heavy interest and emphasis in the post World War II era, especially since the 1960s, on literature, history, politics (including nationalism), economics, education, and fine arts (music, dance, painting, and sculpture).

    4. Dates of publication of materials collected; current vs. retrospective coverage
      Most of the materials in the African American Studies Collection are from a post Civil War and Reconstruction Period with a concentration of materials dated after the World War II Period.

    5. Formats collected and excluded
      The collection of African American Studies is collected in print, microform, and electronic formats. Videos and DVDs are primarily purchased by the media unit of the Herman B Wells Library.
  3. Collecting responsibility
    The collection manager responsible for the African American Studies Collection is the African American Studies Bibliographer, and Head of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library. The African American Studies Bibliographer is responsible for the African American Studies Collection in the Herman B Wells Library – Research Collection, and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library. The African American Studies Bibliographer corroborates with other bibliographers including those responsible for areas such as English literature, American history, and political science. The African American Studies Bibliographer also corroborates in some collecting with the areas studies bibliographers for Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

  4. Related collections
    The most highly related collections to the African American Studies Collection in the IU Libraries – Bloomington campus are the Sociology Collection, the Folklore Collection, and in particular the Black Music Collection of the Music Library. The African American Studies Collection is also related to several departmental archives including the Archives of Traditional Music (!libarchm), the African American Music and Culture Archives (, and the Black Film Center/Archives (

  5. Principal sources of supply and major selection tools
    Selection tools used in collecting materials for African American and African Diaspora Studies range from traditional library selection journals such as Library Journal and Choice to specialized collection development journals such as the Black Book Review Bulletin and the Black Scholar. Selection of African American Studies materials are also handled through various library approval plans, and with particular electronic and microform publishers.

  6. Preservation
    The African American Studies Collection has not required major de-acidification or preservation work. The major area of preservation that has been performed has been in binding or repair of binding of books and volumes of journals.
    1. Criteria for selection for preservation and/or mass deacidification

    2. High-priority areas of the collection for preservation review and treatment
  7. Selection criteria for ALF
    Selection for the ALF for the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library and the African American Collection in the Main Library will include older, infrequently borrowed or circulating books and journals. The African American Studies Collections are maintained at the 80 percent capacity level.

  8. Digital projects
    The African American Studies Collection has initiated some discussions with the Digital Library Program about possible digital projects. A prospective area of a digital program are archival materials housed in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library, which include about 300 audiotapes of live speeches and performances, and about 16 linear feet of vertical file ephemeral materials on African American Studies subjects and departmental office histories.
    1. Criteria for selection for digitization

    2. Priorities for collections to be digitized
  9. Other resources and libraries
    The premier library of African American materials in the United States is the Schomburg Library ( ).

  10. Consortial agreements
    Not Applicable

African American Studies Home Page

Revised April 2012

last updated: 4/19/2012