Shauna Collier, Librarian for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, contributed this post.
Late last year my dream of becoming the librarian for the National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) came true, and a month ago I returned to the Smithsonian Libraries (I worked here years ago as the Anacostia Librarian). After receiving the warmest welcome from my library and museum colleagues, I started receiving the question “So what’s happening with the NMAAHC Library?” Well, it is all still coming together, but I will use this opportunity to give a brief update.
A few years ago, the Smithsonian Libraries (SL) featured a blog post titled Planning for the NMAAHC Branch Library that described the planning for the new library and actually most of what was written in that post is still part of the vision.
To recap: This will be SL’s first library in a public space within a museum – which is by design because we want the library to be accessible to museum visitors and the general public, as well as Smithsonian staff. The library will be on the second floor of the new museum building and will be part of the museum’s education complex, along with the Information Commons/Resource Center, the Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA), and the offices and classrooms of the museum’s Education Department. The Information Commons/Resource Center will be a place where visitors can come for additional information about exhibitions and objects in the collection, or for general information about the museum; and we anticipate that CAAMA will have researchers who may also want to utilize library resources. The Museum Education staff will offer a wide variety of programs on African American history and culture with opportunities for library collaboration.
The library will also share space with the museum archives and house roughly 20,000 volumes in a core collection of print resources. Subject emphasis for the library collection will of course include the major topics in African American Studies, but one subject area I’m very excited about is family history/genealogy, which will also be a part of the library’s collection and programming.
In the next year or so, we will start hiring additional library staff and hope to have most onboard by the opening of the museum in 2015. We also will continue to build the library’s print and electronic resources. Our ultimate goal is to create a warm, inviting library with a strong collection of materials and knowledgeable staff to serve the researchers and guests who will be visiting us. The NMAAHC itself is the result of the dreams and hard work of so many people, and I look forward to my role in making that dream a reality.