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*The Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) is celebrated on this date in 1970. They are an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA) that focuses on the needs of African American library professionals by promoting careers in librarianship, funding literacy initiatives, and providing scholarships. While work began to organize a Black Caucus of the American Library Association in 1968, this work increased in 1969 when E. J. Josey was appointed to the American Library Association Nominating Committee.
For the 1970 Midwinter meeting, Black librarians were encouraged to find socially responsible candidates, African Americans, and European Americans, for the 1971 council. During the 1970 Midwinter meeting, a Black Caucus was formed to meet the unmet needs of African American library professionals, with Josey as the chairman. The Black Caucus was not officially affiliated with the ALA until 1992; the first National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL) was also held in 1992.
Mission Statement (revised 1995)
BCALA Mission: The Black Caucus of the American Library Association serves as an advocate for the development, promotion, and improvement of library services and resources to the nation's African American community; and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians. The BCALA offers awards for books, e-books, innovative leaders (referred to as trailblazers), and a scholarship in honor of E.J. Josey. Awards are given for four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry Collection, and First Novel. The initial First Novel award went to Alexs Pate for the novel Losing Absalom.
Some recent book awards have been for The Twelve Tribes of Hattie and If One of Us Should Fall. The SELF-e literary award, recognizing self-published poetry and fiction, was created in 2015 by BCALA in partnership with BiblioBoard, becoming the first eBook award sponsored by an organization affiliated with the American Library Association. BCALA sponsored the Black Books Galore contest to public and school library programs that support increased awareness of African American children's literature through public programming.
The National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL) has been held nine times since 1992; the first conference was held in Columbus, Ohio, and organized by Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin, conference chair. The schedule of 70 programs included a focus on African American librarians supporting each other professionally as well as highlighting the work of African American authors and performers. Conferences have continually provided an opportunity for black librarians to network, build community, and address current concerns, such as the need for library subject headings that will allow for easy access to African American collections.
In 2006, BCALA took part in the first Joint Council of Librarians of Color (JCLC), the American Indian Library Association, the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, the Chinese American Librarians Association, and REFORMA. As an advocacy and solidarity organization, BCALA campaigned to save the library studies program at Clark Atlanta University. This historically black university had educated the majority of African American librarians until its closing. Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the BCALA Haitian Relief Fund was created to support relief efforts through the Save the Children Fund and the American Red Cross. In 2015, BCALA planted a tree in Ferguson, Missouri, in honor of Michael Brown.
The Joint Council of Librarians of Color (JCLC, Inc.) was founded in June of 2015 as an organization “that advocates for and addresses the common needs of the American Library Association ethnic affiliates“; these ethnic affiliates include BCALA, as well as the American Indian Library Association, the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, the Chinese American Librarians Association, and REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking. The August 2015 Conference was held in St. Louis, Missouri. The next National Conference of African American Librarians to be held from August 5–9, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2020, was rescheduled due to covid-19.