Prior to the gains made during the Civil Rights movement, library schools, like other educational institutions, were typically segregated based on race. Filling the void created when the Hampton Institute (now known as Hampton University) School of Library and Information Services closed in 1941, Atlanta University opened its own School of Library and Information Services. The program would later be known as the Clark Atlanta University School of Library and Information Studies when Atlanta University merged with Clark College in 1989. Though CAU’s School of Library and Information Studies closed its doors in 2005, the Archives Research Center (ARC) at the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Robert W. Woodruff Library houses several collections showcasing the contributions to the field of librarianship made by faculty and staff at the AUC as well as prominent black librarians outside the AUC. The first director of the AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library (and namesake of the library’s Exhibitions Hall), Virginia Lacy Jones was the second African American to earn a doctorate in Library Science from the University of Chicago. Working alongside Jones at Atlanta University’s School of Library and Information Service was Hallie B. Brooks who taught at AU for 47 years. Other prominent black librarians featured throughout ARC collections include: Dorothy Porter, who built Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center into the world-class research institution it is today, Sadie Peterson Delaney, a pioneer in bibliotherapy who served as chief librarian of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuskegee, AL for 34 years, and Arna Wendell Bontemps, head librarian at Fisk University and noted Harlem Renaissance figure.
If you’d like to explore these collections further, contact the Archives Research Center at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment, and stay tuned for our upcoming exhibit on the history of AUC’s library school.