Social Library, Black History Month Edition

Jennifer Peterson /

Image courtesy East Lyme Public Library on Facebook

We continue the Social Library series with this special Black History Month edition, highlighting examples of ways your library can use social media to connect your community to books, programs, videos, oral histories and other resources during the month of February, and throughout the year. We look forward to continuing to highlight the innovative ways libraries are using Facebook to engage their communities. If you'd like to see your library featured in a Social Library edition, please let us know via or find us on Facebook.

  • East Lyme Public Library in Connecticut shared photos of their Black History Month book displays, for children, teens and adults. And later this month, the library will be hosting a community read-aloud of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letters from Birmingham Jail, in collaboration with the local Rotary and Toastmasters.
  • This week we learned about Storyline Online, a project of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation that provides videos of actors reading picture books, available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, free of charge. Image courtesy Bloomington Public Library, Illinois on FacebookA Facebook post highlights Viola Davis reading Rent Party Jazz, one of six featured books read by actors in celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth. Since 2001, the Storyline Online website has grown to offer multiple bedtime stories read by celebrities (SAG-AFTRA members) ranging from James Earl Jones and Betty White to Jane Kaczmarek, Bradley Whitford, Sean Astin, Esai Morales, Amber Tamblyn, Eric Close, Elijah Wood, Kevin Costner and more. Supplemental activities for each book have been developed by an early literacy specialist for parents, educators (and librarians!) to use with their young readers.
  • Bloomington Public Library, Illinois shared a post with this graphic, featuring three upcoming events celebrating Black History Month. First, three-time Emmy Award winning, St. Louis-based storyteller, Bobby Norfolk, performed stories, prose, and rap at the library. Next, Bill Kemp, the Librarian and Archivist for the McLean County Museum of History, will be talking about the local African-American Experience during WWI. And then the Impact Dance Theatre of Bloomington-Normal will present the 4th annual “Harambee,” featuring a short lecture about African American dance, demonstrations, and a class to get patrons up and moving.
  • Middlebury College Libraries in Vermont, as part of their Black History Month Celebration, shared a post about In Your Own Words, a collection of oral histories on StoryCorps. Image courtesy West Hills High School Library on FacebookIn the recordings, Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer engages members of the community who trace their origins to the broad black diaspora(s) of the world.
  • West Hills High School Library in California is the first high school library to be featured in our Social Library series! Their eye-catching book displays jumped out and are sure to appeal to their students. We also learned about the #ReadingBlackout hashtag from their post. A BookRiot post explains that "the hashtag comes from booktuber Denise D. Cooper, who’s only reading books by black authors in 2018, a challenge she’s calling 'The Blackout Year for Books.' Even if you don’t join the challenge for the full year, the hashtag #ReadingBlackout is about prioritizing black authors from your TBR (to be read list), so Black History Month seemed like the perfect time to join in." And we also learned that the New York Public Library has picked out one book by and/or about African Americans to recommend for each day of February.

Additional Resources to Share for Black History Month

The Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Park Service all have webpages devoted to Black History month, its history, and resources. Other excellent sources on the web include the African American Heritage site of the United States National Archives and Records Administration and the Law Library of Congress’s African American History Month site.