Last updated: 7/21/2023
2650 Sistrunk BoulevardFort Lauderdale, FL 33311
Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday - Saturday
10 AM - 6 PM
12 PM - 8 PM
Library admission is free, although some events are ticketed.
This 60,000-square-foot facility, built in the heart of one of Broward’s historically black communities, is the third of its kind in the nation to house extensive collections related to this unique blend of cultures. It is the sixth largest branch library of the Broward County Libraries Division, a service of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners. The library houses more than 85,000 books, manuscripts, artifacts and documents. In addition to these resources, it features permanent and traveling exhibits, a 300-seat state-of-the-art auditorium and a computer training lab.
It began with the dream and vision of one man. Samuel F. Morrison, the former director of Broward County Library, who wanted to build a library by and about African-Americans for the Broward community and the world at large. Not just any library, but a state-of-the-art facility for research, life-long learning, community gatherings, cultural events and technology training. Morrison believed in his vision enough to inspire an entire community to follow his dream, no matter how difficult the struggle.
In 1996, funds were already earmarked for the construction of a library in Fort Lauderdale’s Sistrunk Boulevard area to replace the Von D. Mizell Branch Library, but the planned structure – a small branch library - was a far cry from the major research facility, cultural center and historical archive that Sam Morrison imagined.
When approached in 1995 about more money to build a bigger, better library, the Broward County Commission pledged both the land, located on N.W. 27th Avenue and Sistrunk Boulevard, and $5 million, which was $7 million short of the projected $14 million it would take to build the new African-American Research Library and Cultural Center.
By casting a wide net throughout the community, the fundraising committee for the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center was able to gather donations from members of the corporate world, the church community, civic organizations, and individuals.
Finally, on October 26, 2002, after almost six years of planning and dreaming, the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center celebrated its dedication and grand opening.
Daniel M. Johnson Collection contains more than 5,600 books. Of special note is the extensive collection of books on the history of ancient Egypt, Nubia and West African kingdoms. African-American literature of the “New Negro” era is another strong component of this book collection.
Dorothy Porter Wesley Collection contains more than 2,000 books to conduct research on African-Brazilian history and culture, the history of early African-American families, women and gender studies and historically black social organizations and publishers.
Jack Abramowitz Collection concentrates on the history of African-Americans in the southern United States primarily during the slavery and reconstruction eras.
Frederic Gomes Cassidy Collection focuses on the history and culture of the Caribbean islands with a strong emphasis on Jamaica.
Charles Mills Collection provides an outstanding collection of books relating to the art and music of the Harlem Renaissance cultural movement during the 1920s and 1930s. Accompanying this collection are jazz music recordings on CDs, audiocassettes and record albums.
Black Heritage Library Collection contains more than 300 volumes selected from the collection of slave narratives, biographies, literature and historical texts originally collected as part of the Negro Collection at Fisk University Library.
EPHEMERA AND MANUSCRIPTS
The ephemera and manuscripts consist of well over one million items. Included are calendars, broadsides, posters, postcards, game kits, obituaries, vertical files, sheet music and collectable stamps.
Alex Haley Collection includes eight unfinished manuscripts, multiple letters and postcards from prominent individuals and fans.
Niara Sudarkasa - Papers contains nearly 200 archival boxes of documents. These papers also provide research on Yoruba language and culture, minorities in higher education and the Black Power Movement in the U.S.
Sixto Campano - Sheet Music Collection contains approximately 1,000 pieces of well-preserved sheet music. Song themes cover early 19th century plantation life in the American South, early 20th century popular music and the stereotypical themes associated with black face minstrelsy.
Esther Rolle Collection focuses on the life of this Pompano Beach, Florida native. Included are artifacts, news clippings, books, photographs and a record album by Rolle titled In the Garden of My Mind.
Margaret and Cato Roach Collection consists of personal papers, awards, pamphlets and news clippings documenting these Fort Lauderdale pioneers and mentors in the field of education and civil rights during the 1960s and 1970s.
ARTWORK AND ARTIFACTS
An awe-inspiring collection of artwork and artifacts was created from donations by African art collectors Arthur B. Steinman and Mary Sue and Dr. Paul Peter Rosen, award-winning African-American artists Charles Mills and Jonathan Green, illustrators Ashley Bryan, Kadir Nelson and Jerry Pinkney, and Jamaican artist Errol “Elgo” Lewis.
The African-American Research Library and Cultural Center regularly offers computer classes, literacy classes, homework assistance, summertime educational programs for youth.
•Welcome Desk - Directional information.
•Gift Shop sells Afrocentric merchandise.
•Exhibit Area - Features local, state, national and international collections with built-in show-cases.
•Lobby Area is set up as a hall for special events.
•Harrambe Room - A 30-square-foot circular shaped room where patrons can go to reflect.
•Conference Room - 12 seat meeting area.
•Two Seminar Rooms - Meeting area for up to 65 people per room.
•Auditorium - 300-seat theater.
•Circulation – Apply for library cards and check out materials.
•Special Collections – Research materials, mono-graphs, artwork, music and more. Available by appointment only.
•Magazines/Newspapers reading area.
•Youth Services area with storytelling room.
•Adult Services has study rooms.
•Community Technology Center – Computers for public use and hands-on training.
The African-American Research Library and Cultural Division is a member of the Broward County Libraries Division, an agency of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners.
Access: General Public, Students, Scholars
Appointment required: No