May 6, 2022 Library of Congress Awards More than $250,000 to Inaugural Projects Highlighting Uses of Digital Collections
Connecting Communities Digital Initiative Announces Higher Education, Library and Artist/Scholar-in-Residence Library Grants
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The Library of Congress today announced that three grants, totaling $250,000, have been awarded from the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative through a program available to Libraries, Archives, Museums, Minority-Serving Higher Education Institutions and Artists/Scholars. The 2022 awardees — Huston-Tillotson University in Texas, Kenton County Public Library in Kentucky, and Maya Cade, founder of the Black Film Archive in New York — will use these funds to support imaginative uses, remixes and reuses of the Library’s digital collections centering on the lives, histories and experiences of Black, Indigenous and other communities of color.
A wide range of compelling applicants and projects from across the United States, including territories and protectorates, were submitted for review by the selection panel to receive grant funds to research within Black, Indigenous, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. The grants, which encourage digital programs that add and amplify the stories of people whose voices have historically been minimized and that innovatively incorporate Library collections, are the first awarded from the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative, a key component of the multiyear initiative Of the People: Widening the Path, a Library-wide effort supported by the Mellon Foundation.
“We’re excited to support and share the vital work of this first group of Connecting Communities Digital Initiative Grant recipients, who will be remixing the Library’s digital collections in creative ways while also drawing on their own work, collections and collaborators,” said Marya McQuirter, the program director.
Higher Education Recipient
Huston-Tillotson University ($59,575.67)
PROJECT: “Harlem Renaissance Meets Huston-Tillotson University”
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
This project explores the formation of Black aesthetics in the early 20th century and reflects on its meanings in our contemporary moment. Students at Huston-Tillotson University, a historically Black university, will work with Harlem Renaissance-era photograph collections in the university’s archive at the Library of Congress, and contemporary photographs taken by their peers. After careful study and research of selected photographs, students will produce new literature, art, dance and fashion that reimagines Austin and Harlem. Students will also build physical and virtual exhibitions based on their creative work. This multimodal approach allows students and Austin resident’s time and space to learn more about the Harlem Renaissance, to understand Austin in the 1920s and 1930s, and to discuss and compare Black cultural production across time.
“Staff at the Downs-Jones Library are ecstatic to have received this grant from the Library of Congress,” said Project lead Bree’ya Brown. “We're invested in preserving Huston-Tillotson University's legacy and supporting its students with outstanding library and archives services. With the grant, we aim to continue our mission and values and uphold the institution's history and community excellence.”
Libraries, Archives and Museums Recipient
Kenton County Public Library ($52,080)
PROJECT: “Crafting Stories, Making History: The African American Experience in Covington, KY”
LOCATION: Covington, Kentucky
The city of Covington, Kentucky, is an urban border city situated on the southern shore of the Ohio River directly across from downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. The historically Black Eastside neighborhood has long served as a cultural center for African-Americans across the Northern Kentucky region. This project seeks to illuminate and preserve the legacies, lives and experiences of African-Americans in the region. The Kenton County Public Library, in partnership with the Center for Greater Neighborhoods, and phrie worlds, an artist-in-residence, will collaborate with cross-generational residents of the Eastside and neighboring communities to use the Library of Congress’ digital collections about Kentucky as a catalyst for artistic and media production by and for residents of the past and present. The Library’s digital collections and materials will be paired with listening sessions between youth and elders and will form the basis for coding, quilting, traveling and digital exhibitions, design interventions, and other forms of storytelling. Community members will have the opportunity to collaborate with artists-in-residence that have ties to this community.
“Receiving this grant means that we can continue to connect generations in a creative and meaningful way so that these stories and knowledge will live on forever and help shape the community we live in,” said team member Jameela Salaah.
Maya S. Cade ($150,000)
PROJECT: “Black Film Archive: Tenderness in Black Film”
LOCATION: Brooklyn, New York
Maya S. Cade, creator and curator of Black Film Archive, a living register of Black films from 1915 to 1979, will explore the place of tenderness in American Black film during her two-year residency at the Library. Black Film Archive, an already impressive digital archive, will draw on the vast digital collections at the Library by working with librarians, archivists and preservationists in the Moving Image Research Center to make a much larger corpus of films more accessible to the public. Moreover, Cade’s tenderness prompt will create space for the public to think more deeply not only about Black film but also about the possibilities and necessities of tenderness (as critical metadata) in digital collections. Through social media engagement, a dynamic digital annotated bibliography, and a short film, Cade will guide us in the vital task of re-imagining what tenderness has and can look like in libraries, archives and cinema.
“The Library of Congress’ ongoing commitment to finding innovative pathways for the public to access a wealth of knowledge is a quest mirrored in my work with Black Film Archive. Becoming the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence for the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative grant ensures Black Film Archive continues to expand Black film scholarship for years to come. Building out the future of the Archive with the support and resources of the Library is a dream come true,” Cade said.
The library and higher education institution recipients will work on their projects over the next 12 months. The scholar recipient will spend the next two years working on their project. There will be opportunities for the public to engage with this work over the duration of each of these projects.
To receive updates on these projects as well as the overall initiative, subscribe to the Of the People: Widening the Path blog.
About Of the People: Widening the Path
Launched in January 2021, Of the People: Widening the Path is a multiyear initiative to connect the Library more deeply with Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color historically underrepresented in the Library’s collections. Supported through a gift from the Mellon Foundation, it provides new opportunities for more Americans to engage with the Library and add their perspectives to the Library’s collections. This work will expand the Library’s efforts to ensure that a diversity of experiences is reflected in our historical record and inform how we use those materials to understand our past.
About the Library
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.