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Two, more or less parallel paths of evidence must be traced to get a sense of the history of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library.  It  is not simply an exercise in "following the books."  "The books" or the African American Studies collection, developed apart from the concept of the library that now houses them.

Our areas of exploration are divided into the following:

  1. the Afro-American Studies Collection [now known as the African American Studies Collection or African American Collection] which was started in 1967-1968

  2. the variously-defined study spaces that have been integral to the concept of IU Bloomington's "Black Culture Center" since its inception in 1972

The foundation of the Afro-American Studies Collection was laid by Librarian Wilmer Baatz shortly after being hired as Assistant Director of the Main Library  (Herman B Wells Library) in 1965.  His acquisition in this subject area continued until his retirement in 1986. Baatz' sense of responsibility to users of the collection was evident when he returned to IU in 1989 to accept the position of Black Culture Center Librarian.

In the meantime, Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center antecedents called The Black House, The Black Culture Center and The African American Cultural Center, spawned an associated library ancestral line named, reading room, learning resources center and African American Cultural Center Library

This exhibit attempts to shed light on this progression from "reading room" to recognized branch of Herman B Wells library housing the collection conceived initially by Wilmer Baatz.

Is a library defined by its collection or the requirements of its users? 

A study of "NMBCC Library" history prompts such questions.  Browse our collections and exhibits and discover what conclusions are possible.

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