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last updated: 7/26/2013

Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library Collections


The NMBCC Library is one of three Indiana University special collections on the humanities with emphasis on the history and culture of African Americans. The collection trio includes the Black Film Center/Archive and the Archives of African American Music and Culture. The resources of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library, and Indiana University library collections on African American studies are complementary collections. The Wells Library collections cover very diverse fields of the social sciences and humanities.


The NMBCC Library has a core collection of 5000 monographs on African American history and culture, with an emphasis on the performing arts (music, dance, theatre, television, and film). The collection also contains 26 journal titles and 7 newspaper subscriptions.


Black Studies on disc is available as an online database, with old CD-Roms available in the Wells Library Reference department. The databases are now online and contain some 148,000 records by and about people of African descent throughout the world. Concentrating on the humanities, the social sciences and the arts, its geographical scope emphasizes the Americas, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Index to Black Periodicals is no longer in print form, but print volumes from 1988-1998 are available from the ALF.


Specialized Reference Resources 


Exploring the History of Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library

An Online Exhibit


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. development of the Afro-American Studies Collection [now known as the African American Studies 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 African 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. He began acquisition in this subject area in response to perceived need and continued until his retirement in 1986. His 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 Indiana University Libraries housing the collection conceived initially by Wilmer Baatz.


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


A study of Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library history prompts such questions. Browse our collections and exhibits and discover what conclusions are possible.





last updated: 7/26/2013