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Rethinking the Library Response to Black Literacy


This dissertation radically reframes the library and information discourse on the African American literacy gap. It argues that special collections libraries are research environments where humanistic knowledge is produced, and that the books they house can provide important insights about the nature of literacy that have been previously overlooked. The research employs a nascent ethnobibliographic methodology in the examination of a range of artifacts from the black press, as it effectively recasts these artifacts as individual nodes in a larger system of knowledge production. By engaging in ethnobibliographic analysis, the study attempts to both identify and explore the bibliocultural link that connects bibliographical materiality with the processes of racial identity construction. The study draws upon data collected from a group of four individual case studies to further situate the research in an argument that advances the idea of a perception gap over the notion of an achievement gap in the institutional response.

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