Spoken Word Poetry in the Library: Why Hip Hop has a Place in Academic Libraries
Session Category : Panel
Academic libraries have always included programmatic elements, but these have traditionally been staid events that focus on academic lectures and (white-centric) poetry or author readings. However, libraries are changing along with the demographics of our students. For the past two years, the Oviatt Library at California State University, Northridge, has offered its Learning Commons (a centralized location on the first floor of the Library) as a venue for Spoken Word poets and Hip Hop Musical artists during Black History Month. The presenters will discuss the background and rationale for these events and will also address the challenges that come with integrating spoken word poetry and hip hop music into an academic library. The presenters will discuss issues of student engagement, multitasking in the library, the library’s role in the artistic creation of visual and auditory knowledge, and the role of the library in giving a voice to students through narrative and art. The presenters will also address issues such as noise in the library, complaints around content, and positive feedback from students. Through sponsoring such events, the presenters will demonstrate that the Library is supporting the curriculum, intellectual freedom, diversity, and inclusion. In addition, the presenters will discuss how this type of activity becomes a positive means for students to express political and social views, and a productive way for students to deal with fears and anxiety in an uncertain political climate.