Mar 2, 2023

Black History Month at Atlantic City Library Strengthened by Digitized Collection

Black History Month is coming to a close, but there are more resources than ever to learn about African American legacies in Atlantic City.

The Atlantic City Free Public Library marked Black History Month by touting its newly digitized repository “The City of Dreams: The Atlantic City Experience.” The repository, the digitization of which was facilitated by a federal grant, features about 14,000 items from 25 collections that tell the story of the Black community in Atlantic City and the impacts it has made in South Jersey and across the country.

Atlantic City Library Director Robert Rynkiewicz said he and his colleagues chose to prioritize digitizing its Black history collection. He cited the depth of the collection itself, calling it “robust”, and cited its widespread popularity.

“We all felt there was a lot of interest in that history, in that community,” Rynkiewicz said. “The Black community built this city in a lot of ways.”

Atlantic City Library Archivist Jacqueline Silver-Morillo was the director for the City of Dreams digitization project. She said she frequently receives requests from people to view the collection and was excited to expand access to the storied photographs and readings.

“Instead them having to come into the library to view the collection, they can now view it from their homes,” Silver-Morillo said.

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Atlantic City Library a grant for more than $122,000 in 2021 in support of the digitization project.

The NEH grant funded the purchase of the needed equipment for the project, including a scanner that could digitize books, maps, photographs and scrapbooks, as well as three-dimensional items, in the collection. It also helped the library hire assistance, including Digital Archives Assistant Kate Rowland, of Stockton University, and Special Collections Librarian Heather Perez from the university’s Richard E. Bjork Library. Rynkiewicz said the importance of the project became clear at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when public-health shutdowns demonstrated how critical it was for modern libraries to have their collections available virtually.

You can read more in an article by Christopher Doyle at:

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