FMU Library to unveil African American Collection
Francis Marion University’s James A. Rogers Library will host an unveiling ceremony for its new African American Collection on Thursday, Feb. 4, at 3:45 p.m. on the first floor of the library. The event is open to the public. The library’s African-American collection includes some 3,300 fiction and nonfiction titles, 200 DVD titles, an assortment of periodicals and chronologies, four electronic databases and microfilm resources.
The book collection includes work by local authors such as Michael A. Blue, Mack T. Hines Jr. and Amelia W. Vernon. The collection is a result of FMU President Dr. Fred Carter’s vision to establish a collection that would enhance and further the intellectual history of the university relative to African-American contributions, says Joyce Durant, dean of Rogers Library.
She says a big part of that vision is to ensure that the collection is more than just a dusty display on a shelf. It is meant to be used. “He (Carter) wanted it housed in Rogers Library and displayed in a manner that customers could see it without having to go look for it,” says Durant. “It is an inclusive collection. Students and others can use it.” The collection is adjacent to the Reference Information area on the first floor of the Rogers Library. All titles were bound to preserve the book jackets. That extra step is extraordinary, says Durant.
FMU’s collection is one of just a handful around the state. But Durant says its fitting that such a collection be housed at FMU. Nearly half of the student body at FMU is African-American. “Some don’t realize the student demographics here,” says Durant. “It’s important that they know so they understand our purpose in building this collection.”
The collection began with a few books from local authors, plus a few other documents. But organizers quickly realized “it wasn’t broad enough. “It only included history and works pertaining to South Carolina,” she says. The African American Collection Steering Committee, made up of members of faculty and library staff, worked to enlarge the scope to include works with a national or international perspective and, eventually, to include different types of media. The collection was funded by a $100,000 U.S. Department of Education, plus $50,000 in university funds. Durant says Carter made sure FMU’s portion was available.