Publications: The Black Caucus Newsletter

Since 1974, the Black Caucus Newsletter has provided a lot of support and information to Black librarians (with a little humor too).

Read on the learn more about the art, humor, and history of the Black Caucus Newsletter!

The Content

The Black Caucus Newsletter has been a source of current, relevant, professional information for Black librarians, and in the ALA Archives it has a second life as a resource for charting Black librarian history and achievements. Many issues include committee reports, committee schedules, conference information, the Black Caucus constitution development, institute programs, Black Caucus meeting proceedings, grant opportunities, news, notable librarian announcements, job vacancies, professional development opportunities, publication announcements, and professional exchange programs in Africa.

While there is much to write about the value of the information available in this publication, it is equally rewarding to enjoy what there is to see in this nearing half-a-century-strong publication. Such an information resource took time to build under many editors and volunteers. Over time, contributions big and small leave their mark on the history of a publication like Black Caucus Newsletter. Like long time readers, ALA Archives researchers have the benefit of appreciating the subtle art of so many Black librarians.

The History

Early editors served for one to three years, until 1983 when Dr. George C. Grant served as editor for more than five years. During the first twenty years, while the content increased, the layout changed between editors. During those two decades, researchers can see different logo variants, different newsletter layouts, and even a variety of images with subtle humor too.

The Layouts

The first two volumes included a Letter from the Editor on the cover. However, it was the third volume which used unique images for the cover of each issue including a photograph of then A.L.A. President-Elect Clara S. Jones on the fourth issue. The following year returned to covers without cover art and it was an editorial decision to change formats to two columns, to accommodate the ever-increasing amount of information. By Volume 13, in 1985 and 1986, the header was redesigned to use less ink and the margins were further reduced to accommodate even more information. Only five years later, Volume 19 further revised the header and further shrank the margins.

The Logo

Since the first volume, the Black Caucus has had a logo composed of books forming a closed fist for solidarity. The logo has been featured in the header of the first volume, and it was included on the mailing label for Volumes 3 to 7 (seen in the first image below). For Volumes 8 to 13, the logo was found exclusively in the header, until it was redesigned and enlarged for the last issue of Volume 13 (seen in the second image below). In 1990, the image was redrawn to accommodate the thinner borders and header of the new volume.

The Humor

As seen in the images below, in 1974, a wedding story included an unsigned hand-drawing of a married couple. In the following issue, an announcement for a Black Librarians Caucus of Queens, Inc. tour was decorated with a New York City themed ASCII text art image of a big apple. For the following year, in 1976, an interactive exercise was available to readers who were overworked. Readers were instructed to cut a token from the newsletter, to symbolically help them overcome the excuse and expression of “getting around to it”.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of Black Caucus Newsletter are available for viewing at the ALA Archives; however, not all copies are available yet. Please view the Record Series 56/40/10 database record entry, for information on which issues you can view or donate.

Got Something to Donate to the Story So Far?

Behind the headlines has stood a skilled volunteer crew and current ALA Archives holdings do not include all of those names. Were you (or somebody you know) a member of Black Caucus? We welcome you to share your part of ALA history in the comments or to contact us. We and our readers would like to hear from you.

There is much more information, graphic design, art, and humor to be found in the Black Caucus Newsletter and we welcome you to come see for yourself.