Adding new voices to Library resources

Through January, we’re publishing year-in-review highlights from FY2021. Download a full PDF of this year’s Annual Report to read more! This week we’re looking at ways we’re learning to work better, together.

In 2020, the Library created and acquired new resources covering an array of languages and cultures, and added new voices in its communication with the Charlottesville community. A guide to Swahili/Kiswahili Studies, combining Library holdings with open web resources, provided access to information about East Africa’s language and culture. And the Library’s Spanish-language COVID-19 information guide — created when the pandemic began — continued to reach a population disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Katrina Spencer, Librarian for African American and African Studies, created the Library’s African Studies Guide, linking to Africa-Wide Information, an aggregation of nearly 50 databases sourced from Africa, Europe and the U.S., and collaborated with Dr. Anne Rotich of the Carter G. Woodson Institute to compile a guide to Swahili/Kiswahili Studies. Swahili is spoken by more than 100 million people, primarily in East Africa. Resources in the guide include books in the Library’s collection that cover African commerce, history, language, and literature, but also videos that help with Swahili vocabulary and proper usage; websites with links to radio broadcasts of African hip-hop and more traditional music from Tanzania, Kenya and other countries; books for young people from Africa Access and other sources; scholarly articles from East African Journals; and African perspectives on the world from news outlets such as All Africa, BBC Swahili, VOA Swahili, and more.

In spring of 2020, ACRL Diversity Alliance Librarian Hanni Nabahe, aware that COVID-19 was infecting a disproportionately high number of Latinx people (25% of all cases reported in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area, although the area’s Hispanic population is less than 5%), recognized a need to aggregate Spanish-language COVID resources, which were not all in one place or easy to find. Nabahe, a U.S. citizen originally from Veracruz, Mexico and a member of the local Spanish-speaking community, partnered with Virginia Tech librarian Ana Corral to create “COVID-19 Apoyo e Información” (“COVID-19 Support and Information”), a guide bringing together links to Spanish-language websites where people could find information on prevention, symptoms, and identification of COVID-19, and what to do in case of contact or illness. The site includes information about food, housing, and medical care, as well as information for families with children, indigenous communities, immigrant communities, and UVA students. The guide, which rose to one of the top three most viewed guides of 750 published by the Library, continues to perform well and has expanded its reach from Northern Virginia to Tidewater, with new partners using Nabahe’s guide as a template.

Finally, the Library added to its growing share of socially aware online resources. In addition to popular titles such as the Ebony Magazine Archive and The Women’s Magazine Archive, the Library acquired access to other, less well-known databases such as:


Two hundred years of unabridged journalism involving American history and events in Spanish-speaking countries not always available in traditional U.S. papers.


Thousands of audio recordings, videos, field notebooks, and images examining how music and culture interact.


A view of history in the making from a Black perspective.

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