On Thursday, July 30, at 2 p.m. CT, American Library Association (ALA) President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., will pay a virtual visit to the John Brown Watson Memorial Library at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where he will discuss how libraries at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) shape leaders within their communities.

Watson Memorial Library will host a roundtable discussion, Strengthening Communities and Developing Leaders at HBCU Libraries, to illustrate the role of Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Libraries in developing the leaders of tomorrow. The event features a panel of longstanding leaders in HBCU librarianship, as well as some rising stars. Joining Jefferson are leaders from Black Caucus American Library Association (BCALA), as the organization marks its 50th anniversary and the library community celebrates BCALA’s contributions to developing leaders in the profession:

  • Edward Fontenette, Library Director, John Brown Watson Memorial Library
  • Shauntee Burns-Simpson, BCALA President, and Manager of School Outreach, New York Public Library
  • Dr. Jessie Carney Smith, Dean Emeritus of the Library, Fisk University
  • Andrew ‘Sekou’ Jackson, Executive Director Emeritus, Queens Library’s Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Cener, and Trustee, Queens Public Library
  • Kathy Anderson, Director, D.W. Reynolds Library & Technology Center, Philander Smith College

“Watson Memorial Library and HBCU libraries across the nation are cultivating a new generation of leaders, empowering students as they grow intellectually and professionally,” said Jefferson. “Many of these successes take place in the shadows. Their stories need to be told, their local community and professional organization need to listen, and their elected leaders need to support them.”

BCALA President Shauntee Burns-Simpson said, “At this time, when we are working to eradicate white supremacy and break down systemic racism, it’s important that we build up and support our next generation of leaders. HBCUs create a space that allows for Black innovation. It’s that work and imagination that strengthens our communities and improves lives.”

Watson Memorial Library is the fifth stop on Jefferson’s 12-stop virtual tour, Holding Space: A national conversation series with libraries, to spotlight how libraries of all kinds across the country are addressing the needs of their diverse communities and engaging stakeholders to advocate for libraries. At each stop of the 10-day tour, Jefferson will hold community discussions exploring local and national solutions to local and national issues addressed by libraries, such as workforce development programs, children and family services, outreach to rural residents, and broadband for rural and Tribal communities.

Throughout the tour, Jefferson will also invite participants to join ALA advocates, who are currently supporting the Library Stabilization Fund Act to provide federal resources to libraries during the COVID pandemic. For more information on tour stops and ALA advocacy efforts visit . 

Media interested in registering for the event or speaking with ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., library leaders or advocates, may 

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