Full logo for The Authenticity Project: Quotes stacked on top of one another, top are black quotes, bottom are yellow quotes, inside a transparent rectangle. "The Authenticity Project" "HBCU Library Alliance" "CLIR + DLF" in black text to the right of the quote icon.

Learn more about the Authenticity Project

The Authenticity Project, hosted jointly by the HBCU Library Alliance and CLIR/DLF, is an IMLS-funded mentoring and professional development program for early- to mid-career HBCU library staff. The goal of the program is to build a more diverse, inclusive, collaborative, and cohesive next-generation digital library workforce, ready to work across different types of institutions in building infrastructure of various kinds, including social and technological, in service to a wide array of communities.

In 2017 the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Library Alliance and the Digital Library Federation (DLF) collaborated for the first time and jointly hosted the HBCUs/Liberal Arts Pre-Conference before the DLF Forum that year. This IMLS-funded event also provided DLF-HBCU travel fellowships for librarians and digital scholars employed by or with backgrounds in HBCUs. 

The focus of the 110-participant event was on how digital libraries at all types of institutions might better represent diverse communities and experiences through their collections; might better support learners from traditionally underrepresented groups through digital pedagogy; and might more effectively nurture and sustain a dynamic workforce of librarians of color. 

The Authenticity Project builds directly on this event. At the event, both the DLF and HBCU Library Alliance communities confirmed that they were eager to intersect more often and both communities were interested in finding leaders that could serve as professional points of contact at all generational levels. 

HBCU Library Alliance and DLF leaders identified authenticity—the fostering of genuine, equitable, mutual learning and sharing that is both true to individual communities and to the future we want to create together—as the core value of this partnership, as an ongoing systemic need, and as the overarching goal of any future collaboration. The Authenticity Project proposed fostering needed community across library organizations and membership institutions; funding to encourage participation in national conversations by more people of color in the field; amplifying and supporting meaningful, inter-institutional ideas and projects; and creating a solid, supportive, well-balanced network of mentors and peers for career advice and support. 

The program included 75 total participants across two cohorts. The first cohort was formed in 2019 and included 45 participants: 15 fellows were matched with 15 mentors and 15 conversation partners. Like many other projects and programs, Authenticity Project paused due to Covid-19 and resumed with a cohort in 2022 of 30 participants: 10 fellows matched with two mentors per person. The 2022 cohort also included three facilitators who developed the curriculum for cohort meetings. Fellows in both cohorts had the opportunity to attend DLF Forum and affiliated events, as well as present at the DLF Forum. 

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