Black Lives Matter : some ebooks

The killing of George Floyd and others in the US and the protests that have followed there and around the world have seen, among many other positive actions, advice being shared about reading material to aid understanding of modern-day and historical Black experience.  Olivette Otele, Professor of History of Slavery at the University of Bristol, published a list of “12 classics from the anti-racist canon” in the Sunday Times yesterday.  Through her Twitter profile, Professor Otele provided a snapshot of the list here.

This post looks at the availability (where possible) of these titles electronically for Cambridge staff and students, and then ends with a brief list of some further ebooks we have recently purchased.

Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965).  Frustratingly, this book is not available electronically through the Library, in any of its multiple editions.  Some of Malcolm X’s work can be read online in edited volumes:

Race and the undeserving poor : from abolition to brexit / Robbie Shilliam (2018; temporary access through Perlego (records for titles on this platform are not in iDiscover))

The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house / Audre Lorde (1984).  Again, a title we cannot provide access to (including our electronic legal deposit copy, which is inaccessible while the physical buildings are closed), with no purchasable copy available to us.  The essay the 1984 collection is named after can itself can be accessed in the book Feminist postcolonial theory : a reader (2018) (temporary access through EBSCO, plus on JSTOR).  Here are some Audre Lorde books which are available.

The fire next time / James Baldwin. (1963; note that our ecopy is the 2004 edition)

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race / Reni Eddo-Lodge (2017)

Ain’t I a woman : black women and feminism / bell hooks (1981; note that our ecopy is the 2015 Routledge edition)

Me and white supremacy : combat racism, change the world, and become a good ancestor / Layla F. Saad (2020)

Superior : the return of race science / Angela Saini (2019)

Washington Black / Esi Edugyan (2018)

Red dust road / Jackie Kay (2010).  Another frustrating miss, which we have electronically only through legal deposit.  Jackie Kay’s entry (with poems) on the Scottish Poetry Library is here, and below are those of her books to which we do have Raven-authenticated access:

Queenie / Candice Carty-Williams (2019).  Yet one more electronic legal deposit book which isn’t available to us to purchase.  Candice Carty-Williams is a contributor to New daughters of Africa : an international anthology of writing by women of African descent (2019).

It is a great shame not to be able to provide access to all Professor Otele’s recommendations.  A summary of the reasons why some ebooks cannot be bought by libraries can be found here.

Here are a few examples of recent ebook purchases, bought at the request of our readers and library colleagues, on the subject of race.

Libraries have a significant role to play in combating racism and prejudice, and there is work to be done in all parts of their activities, from curation of historic collections to modern collection development.  Some of my CAL colleagues have been involved in a great Cambridge initiative called Decolonising through Critical Librarianship, whose work has been recognised recently with the awarding of a University Diversity Fund grant to employ an intern to help develop their online platform.  Current circumstances prevent this specific project from moving forward at the moment, but hopefully it can start before too long.

Recommendations for further books to educate us all (myself top of the list) are always welcome through this page.

Mel Bach

2 thoughts on “Black Lives Matter : some ebooks

  1. This post, I should have said, focuses on books written in English. I hope we will have another post soon which looks at some of the foreign-language books (including translations) we can offer readers. Mel

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