Here at LYRASIS Now, we’d like to introduce our In Focus series, where we’ll take a little time to share the interesting projects, associations and collaborations in which our members are engaged. To kick off the series, we’d like to start close to home with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Library Alliance. It’s close to home because the HBCU Library Alliance shares office space with LYRASIS in Atlanta and because LYRASIS has worked closely with the organization since its beginning.

The HBCU Library Alliance is a consortium that supports the collaboration of information professionals dedicated to providing an array of resources designed to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities and their constituents. The organization was formed in 2001, when key library leaders, including Loretta Parham of the Robert Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Janice Franklin of Alabama State University and Kate Nevins of Solinet (which was later a founding organization of LYRASIS) identified the need for an organization or committee to work solely on behalf of HBCU libraries and their needs and opportunities.[1] Over the next two years the group created a steering committee, mission statement and name, and received a $160,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to conduct a needs assessment and develop programs.

Since then, the HBCU Library Alliance has continued its commitment to Historically Black Colleges and Universities through research, outreach and collaboration. The HBCU Library Alliance is now home to programs such as the Photographic Preservation Project, which improved the preservation of significant photographic collections held within Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the HBCU Library Alliance Leadership Program, encouraging the development of leadership skills within the HBCU library community and on their own campuses, and the HBCU – Cornell University Library (CUL) Digitization Initiative. The HBCU – CUL Digitization Initiative, funded by a grant from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation and managed by the Cornell University Library, is a nationwide initiative to prepare HBCU librarians to produce digital collections and to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of HBCU library materials with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages.

Click here to read more about the vital and exciting work the HBCU is doing. Be sure to view the membership list to find out which of your fellow libraries and learning institutions are active participants in this important organization.

[1] Allen, Marlene D. and Shanesha R. F. Brooks-Tatum (2014). “A Decade of Achievement, a Call to Excellence: The History and Contributions of the HBCU Library Alliance.” International Journal of Academic Library Information Science, February 2014, vol 2(2), pp 14 – 21.