With more than one hundred and seventy-five thousand books, pamphlets, periodicals and microforms in numerous languages in its collections, the Library Division provides extensive documentary evidence of the history, lives and struggles of people of African descent.
Among the library’s holdings are many rare works, going back to the sixteenth century, by such notables as Juan Latino, Jacobus Capitein, Gustavus Vassa, Phillis Wheatley, Jupiter Hammon, David Walker, Frederick Douglass and Martin Delaney. The collections are particularly strong in the first editions and first works by early twentieth century contemporary writers, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, Alice Walker, Nicolas Guillén, Wole Soyinka, James Baldwin, Chinua Achebe, Toni Morrison and Amiri Baraka. Special resources within the division’s collections include: theses and dissertations written on Black-related topics by students of other colleges and universities; English and foreign language newspapers, journals and magazines which provide current and retrospective examination of the Black diasporic experience; and an extensive vertical file collection consisting of thousands of folders of biographical and subject-related ephemeral materials which often serve as the sole source of information on obscure as well as better known people and events. Current and rare titles are added regularly to the collection to enhance its growth and development.