26 avril 2023 Blogs

How libraries can power Black studies

Resources that help Gen Z better understand an issue they care about

The impact of the Black Lives Matter movement has been profound, sparking a global movement to recognize and address racial inequalities. In the U.S., where the movement started, more than 80% of Generation Z – those born between 1997 and 2010 – report that it has influenced their worldview. Two-thirds of Gen Zers are initiating conversations with friends and family on the topic, and almost half report taking active steps to support racial justice in the U.S., according to a survey1.

Diverse content broadens perspectives

Academic libraries can help support Gen Z's interest in racial equality – and by extension, Black studies – by providing access to resources that promote learning, understanding and empathy. Diversifying collections to include Black authors and scholars, as well as books and other materials that cover a range of topics related to black history, culture and contemporary issues enable students to broaden their perspectives and challenge their own and others’ narratives, thinking critically about issues.

ProQuest Black Studies enables libraries to provide their academic community with access to a remarkably broad spectrum of information, including primary sources and scholarly materials related to African American history and culture. The database has been awarded 4 stars and the 2022 Readers' Choice for Best New Product by The Charleston Advisor2. It has also been recognized as a Best Database of 2022 by Library Journal, where reviewer Michael Rodriguez said, “ProQuest Black Studies is positioned to become the database of choice for both students and scholars in African American studies3."

Delivering the immediacy of history

The combination of primary and secondary sources in ProQuest Black Studies allows students to analyze the people, organizations and events in Black history from multiple perspectives. Leading Black historical newspapers, like the Atlanta Daily World and Baltimore Afro-American, offer a wealth of information on topics such as the Black press, civil rights activism, and the impact of segregation and discrimination on Black communities. Key government materials offer a perspective into the relationship between Black communities and the government.

Importantly, ProQuest Black Studies also includes archival documents like letters, diaries, photographs and scrapbooks that provide first-hand accounts of historical events. These materials can be especially valuable in the study of Black social and political movements, which have often been marginalized or overlooked in traditional historical narratives.

"These are the sources I would come back to again and again, and where I would send my students, to find what's not available anywhere else," said Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Assistant Professor of History at The Ohio State University and an advisor on the development of ProQuest Black Studies.

Supporting the classroom and engaging students

Videos, writings by major Black intellectuals and leaders, scholarly journals and essays by top scholars in ProQuest Black Studies can also play an important role in empowering students and researchers. Videos provide a visual and auditory record of important moments in Black history, while writings offer insights into the intellectual, cultural and political contributions of Black people. Scholarly journals and essays provide a space for ongoing conversations and debates, while also offering cutting-edge analysis and commentary on current issues and debates. Faculty members can use these resources to create engaging assignments and class discussions, while graduate students can use them to complete in-depth articles, research seminar papers, theses and dissertations. For librarians, it is a solution for research materials that support Black studies across the curriculum, making it easier to build collections and provide necessary resources.

When I explain [ProQuest Black Studies] to colleagues, I let them know that this will make their lives easier," said Chad Williams, Samuel J. and Augusta Spector Chair in History at Brandeis University.

Technology that provides a seamless journey

ProQuest Black Studies has a user-friendly design and includes features like timelines, topic pages and collection pages that make it easy to navigate its breadth of content. With just a few clicks, users can immerse themselves in the rich and diverse history of African American culture, literature and politics, making research and study an engaging and enlightening experience.

Learn more about ProQuest Black Studies and request a trial.

    2. The Charleston Advisor, "Advisor Reviews: ProQuest Black Studies," October 2022
    3. Library Journal, eReviews