Black History Month

February is designated as Black History Month in the United States. Started in 1926 as Negro History Week by the noted scholar Carter G. Woodson, the entire  month of February was designated as Black History Month in 1976. February was chosen because it included the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

The FAU Libraries has been commemorating the month with a series of events and exhibits, including the multi-media “Pursuit of Equality” exhibit celebrating Boca Raton’s historic Pearl City community, as well as the women who were the unsung heroes in the exploration of space, and many more achievements.  This month’s Meet-the-Dean event in the Wimberly Library from 10:30-11:30 on February 28th encouraged students to sign a poster congratulating Carla Hayden as the first woman and the first African-American to be appointed as the Librarian of Congress.

Carol Hixson explaining about Carla Hayden poster in background

Carol Hixson explaining about Carla Hayden poster in background

Celebrating Black History month is just one example of the FAU Libraries commitment to the diversity of our community, our country, and the world in which we live. Come to the libraries often to check out our events, our exhibits, and our exploration and celebration of the world around us.

Students signing banner congratulating Carla Hayden

Students signing banner congratulating Carla Hayden




Academic libraries exist to enable the students and faculty of their institutions to be successful in their academic careers and also to provide them with the skills they will need to be informed global citizens. We do this by providing access to the world’s scholarly output, by helping them develop and pursue individual research, by keeping them apprised of changes in the scholarly communication landscape, by helping them make connections with other people and ways of thinking, and by connecting them to technology and other tools to be effective critical thinkers and lifelong learners.

One of the primary challenges facing faculty and students today is understanding their rights and responsibilities when it comes to creating, sharing, citing, and repurposing intellectual content. Copyright. When is an image or video on the Web able to be inserted into a presentation or paper without first getting permission? What does fair use allow me to use in my teaching? What questions should I ask before I sign over my copyright in order to have my research published? How do I properly cite and quote someone else’s work in my own work? When am I allowed to build on someone else’s creative work in order to create a brand-new play, work of art, or musical composition? These questions have been around for a long time but have become more complex because of the prevalence of so much content that is freely available for viewing, reading, and listening on the Internet.

The FAU Libraries will be working to offer more workshops, generate more discussion, offer access to webinars, and bring in respected speakers to help address these and other questions facing today’s faculty and students.

On February 24, the FAU Libraries and the Center for eLearning are hosting world-renowned copyright expert Dr. Kenneth Crews to discuss copyright and its impact on faculty and students. Dr. Crews is an attorney, author, professor, and international copyright consultant. For over 25 years, his research, policymaking, and teaching have centered on copyright issues related to education and research. He established and directed the nation’s first university-based copyright office at Indiana University and was later recruited to establish a similar office at Columbia University. He currently serves on the faculty of Columbia Law School and has a law practice and consultancy with the firm of Gipson Hoffman & Pancione. He is the author of numerous publications including Copyright, Fair Use, and the Challenge for Universities (1993), a reevaluation of  the understandings of copyright and fair use at universities, and the well-received, Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators (3rd ed, 2012). He is the recipient of the Patterson Copyright Award from the American Library Association and the 2014 Mark T. Banner Award from the American Bar Association.

To learn more about the program and express interest in attending, faculty and students should visit




Deepening Resolve

In my first full-time library job years ago at Cornell University working to acquire materials for their Southeast Asian collection, I learned in practical terms about the commitment of libraries and librarians to providing access to resources and services to support individual inquiry and creative output. I learned that libraries acquire and make available materials regardless of the point of view represented, that they help anyone who walks in the door or reaches out for help over the phone, email, or online, that they strive to be a safe place for everyone to explore the world. And librarians routinely stand up in defense of people and groups that are under attack. While we respect diverse points of view, those points of view must be expressed in ways that don’t threaten or harm other people.

Today the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), an independent, nonprofit organization that works with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher education to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments, and the Digital Library Federation (DLF), a “community of practitioners who advance research, learning, social justice, and the public good through the creative design and wise application of digital library technologies” issued a statement on their deepening resolve to support diversity and oppose divisiveness. The full statement lays out the principles and explains what it means practically when they say that they “stand in resolute support of our dedicated and diverse community of information professionals and organizational sponsors, promoting the fullest and most inclusive vision they may hold of the publics they serve: individuals and institutions that are both stalwart and vulnerable, people living now and generations yet to come. We also stand with our community in determined opposition to any political policies, actions, and divisive ideologies—like those we have observed during the current transition of power in Washington, DC—that contravene our shared, core values of enlightened liberalism and scientific understanding, and threaten our mission to create just, equitable, and sustained global cultures of accessible information.”

Other library organizations have also been more vocal recently in support of diversity and inclusion. The Association of Research Libraries, a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries at comprehensive, research institutions in the US and Canada,  and the  Association of American University Presses recently issued a joint statement that emphasized that they “have longstanding histories of and commitments to diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. As social institutions, research libraries, archives, and university presses strive to be welcoming havens for all members of our communities and work hard to be inclusive in our hiring, collections, books and publications, services, and environments.”  Referring to the Presidential travel ban recently promulgated, they noted that “while temporary, the ban will have a long-term chilling effect on free academic inquiry. This order sends a clear message to researchers, scholars, authors, and students that the United States is not an open and welcoming place in which to live and study, conduct research, write, and hold or attend conferences and symposia. The ban will disrupt and undermine international academic collaboration in the sciences, the humanities, technology, and global health.”

Like these other library organizations, the FAU Libraries will continue to support all FAU students and faculty, regardless of their backgrounds and point of view, and will always strive to provide a safe environment for our students and faculty to study, carry out research, engage with each other, and create new works of artistic endeavor and scholarship. We don’t play favorites.

Diversity and Inclusion (Liberty and Justice) for All

The FAU Libraries as a whole and I personally as Dean are committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all students, faculty, and staff of the University, regardless of their background and personal experiences. This means celebrating diversity and including everyone. It means working to ensure that everyone feels valued and safe to express their thoughts while also being exposed to and exploring other perspectives. In a university and surrounding community that is home to people from so many different backgrounds and experiences, it is challenging sometimes. Within the United States right now there is a great deal of discussion – and action – that underscores our differences in ways that make it hard to find common ground. But we in the Libraries are committed to trying.

Library associations, individual libraries, and thousands of librarians and library staff around the world are taking stands on a daily basis in support of people from all backgrounds. The International Federation of Library Associations proclaimed their support for all people of all backgrounds in their Open Societies are Healthy Societies document in which they stated that “Libraries are at the heart of healthy societies. By bringing people together – students, researchers, creators, citizens – they support learning, sharing, and the creation of new ideas. They also support the delivery of key human rights, as set out both in national constitutions and international conventions, most importantly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: freedom of expression and access to information, as well as the right to participate in cultural life and enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.”

The Association of Research Libraries, which has numerous programs supporting diversity in the profession, and the American Association of University Presses issued a joint statement in which they said that “President Trump’s recent executive order temporarily barring entry into the US by individuals from seven countries is contrary to the values held by libraries and presses, and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) stand unequivocally opposed to this immigration ban.”

The FAU Libraries’ Diversity and Inclusion Committee has recently developed a statement to guide the Libraries in the development of services and programs that will promote a safe and welcoming environment for all. That statement reads:

Diversity and inclusion are fundamental values of the FAU Libraries and integral parts of our strategic plan. We seek and provide opportunities to gain experience working and collaborating in diverse, multicultural, and inclusive settings. Our appreciation and dedication for diversity allows us to serve our increasingly diverse community with sensitivity and adaptability. We define diversity to include race, sex, gender identity, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability, national origin, and religion. 

We also recognize inequity can accompany diversity. We acknowledge that providing all users with the same level of resources and support is not necessarily an issue of equal access. Our goal of removing barriers that might impede or discourage access and engagement is as important as providing information across space and time to our users.

 This month, the FAU Libraries are celebrating the diversity of our students and our community through several events.  In honor of Black History Month, the Libraries Exhibitions Committee has created the “Pursuit of Equality” exhibition to highlight local and national efforts to achieve equality for African Americans. Displayed in the Wimberly Library’s atrium and featuring materials culled from the Libraries’ Special Collections, Digital Library and other sources, the multi-media exhibit celebrates the efforts of residents of Boca Raton’s historic Pearl City community, as well as the unsung heroes in the exploration of space and advancements in math and science; featured in the film Hidden Figures and some pivotal moments in Black history, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and the Little Rock Nine.


On February 10, from 7 to 10 p.m. the Wimberly Library will also be hosting “Blazers and the Arts 2017,” an evening of entertainment developed and sponsored by the FAU student chapter of Progressive Black Men (PBM). Chartered at FAU in November 2012, PBM focuses on academic excellence, community support and fellowship. This event gives artists an opportunity to display their talents through music. The evening will feature poetry, dance, music, a fashion show, paintings, and Ffod. Also, on February 28, we will be in the lobby of the Wimberly Library from 10 to 11:30 a.m. to encourage students and others tod to sign a congratulatory banner for Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first black Librarian of Congress appointed by President Barack Obama in 2016. In the Jupiter campus library, the staff will be hosting a scaled down version of the Human Library event first hosted in the Wimberly Library in November 2016.

There are many other events and activities in the works for this spring and beyond. I encourage students and faculty to bring your ideas to us so that the FAU Libraries will become known as the place for people to learn about the world through engagement with other people as much as through study and research.