The library’s Black Studies collection has a rich history dating back to student activism and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In the fall of 1968, African American students at UCSB occupied North Hall and demonstrated against the systematic exclusion of Black Studies from university courses. The university administration accepted demands for the establishment of a Department of Black Studies. In conjunction with this, the Center for Black Studies was created to monitor, coordinate, support, and encourage research in the community.
The collection houses materials on a variety of topics related to Africa and the African Diaspora in the United States and the Caribbean. Topics covered in the collection include anthropology, biography, music, theater, literature, and history. In addition, there are materials on slavery and emancipation, racism and discrimination, the Civil Rights Movement, colonization and development, and other similar topics. Because of the broad nature of Black Studies there are also materials relevant to research in this area in other locations throughout the library.