Every member school of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will receive access to a black studies database either free of charge or at a reduced cost, thanks to a new initiative from information resource company ProQuest.
In a March 20 announcement, ProQuest said it is offering the price break on its Black Studies Center database–which includes journals, essays, and other resources–to help HBCUs save money in a poor economy that has wreaked havoc on many campus operating budgets.
"While these challenging economic times have a broad impact, the magnitude of the burden HBCU libraries are facing requires urgent action," said Marty Kahn, CEO of ProQuest. "Black Studies Center is a cornerstone resource–a significant foundation for HBCU libraries in ensuring research goes on uninterrupted. As a partner to libraries and students, we’re committed to ensuring access to it."
The price break hinges on the enrollment of each HBCU. Schools with enrollment of 2,000 or fewer full-time students will receive one year of free access to the ProQuest black studies database. Universities with more than 2,000 students will get a 50-percent discount if they subscribe to the ProQuest service by Dec. 15.
ProQuest officials said they extended the offer to HBCUs after national media reports documented the economic crisis that many schools are facing. HBCUs typically lack the endowments of larger research universities.
The ProQuest database includes access to Chicago Defender articles from 1910-1975. The Defender–one of the country’s foremost black newspapers–has articles from the Great Depression to World War II to the Vietnam War. ProQuest’s black literature index also has more than 70,000 citations for fiction, literary reviews, and poetry from 110 black periodicals and newspapers.
In addition, the database includes access to the Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience–commissioned essays from widely read black scholars.
HBUC officials lauded ProQuest’s offer, saying access to the database would bolster their library offerings for students.
"This outstanding resource will be a tremendous asset to the libraries of Historically Black Colleges and Universities at a time of great need," said Janice Franklin, dean of library services for Alabama State University and a board member of the HBCU Library Alliance. "Our students and faculty will have an opportunity to access valuable information about the history, culture, and contributions of African-Americans from a single, comprehensive, knowledge resource."