Public Libraries Supporting African American Writers


African American woman with braids deep in thoughtAs the go-to destination for book lovers, public libraries offer a wide collection of materials, including those authored by local writers. However, not all writers are well-represented. African American writers are often underrepresented in libraries, especially in local author sections. To address this issue, libraries must assert intentional efforts through outreach and community collaborations to welcome African American writers into their collections. One of the barriers that African American writers face is a lack of representation, which can lead to a lack of exposure and make it difficult for them to gain a following. Additionally, they may face issues related to publishing, marketing, and distribution. In this webinar, you will learn how to help overcome these barriers by consistently providing resources and support to African American writers. This includes providing workshops, mentorship programs, and networking opportunities.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Analyze the impact of underrepresentation of African American writers in local author sections of libraries and identify the barriers they face in gaining exposure and establishing a following;
  • Develop strategies for outreach and community collaborations to welcome African American writers into their collections, including providing resources and support such as workshops, mentorship programs, and networking opportunities; and
  • Implement intentional efforts to address the underrepresentation of African American writers, with a focus on increasing their visibility and providing equitable access to publishing, marketing, and distribution resources.

Who Should Attend

This webinar is intended for library directors and administrators, as they are the ones who have the power to make changes in their libraries. However, reference services staff and all public library staff would also benefit from learning about the importance of including African American writers in local author sections and how to provide support and resources for them. Overall, anyone who is interested in promoting diversity and inclusivity in libraries and the literary world would find this topic relevant and informative.


Photo of Dr. Julia KapilangoDr. Denguhlanga Julia Kapilango (she/her) is passionate about inspiring and motivating Black African American communities to achieve greatness. She is the director of operations and communication for Homage to Black Excellence (H2BE), which works to promote, honor, and celebrate Black excellence through the literary arts in Dearborn, Michigan and virtually. Dr. Kapilango is an transformative leader dedicated to helping tell Black history’s full potential and make a positive impact with Black history in the world. As the daughter of two revolutionary leaders who devoted their minds and skills to helping Black peoples achieve their goals in liberation movements physically and spiritually, Dr. Kapilango lives in and on these legacies of her mother, Julia Ida Ann Wanza, and father, Dr. Adao Jose Domingos Kapilango.


Important Registration Information

Log into or create your ALA eLearning account

An ALA eLearning account is required to register. Don’t have an account? Create one for free by going to the “Log in” menu located at the top right corner of your screen. No membership is required to create the account.

Redeem your signup code to complete your registration

Once you’ve registered for this webinar, a signup code will be added to your ALA eLearning account and emailed to you. Find the signup code on your signup code page, then redeem it on your account’s dashboard to complete your enrollment in this live webinar.

Review the ALA eLearning FAQ if you need more information.


This live webinar will be captioned in English (United States). Zoom desktop client or mobile app is required to access captions.

Attendees using screen readers are advised to turn off speech prior to joining the Zoom event because PLA webinars make extensive use of chat functionality. Attendees who find chat distracting may wish to disable it in the Zoom event, as PLA moderators will verbally highlight important topics raised in chat and chat transcripts will be provided post-webinar.

If you have a physical or communication need that may affect your participation in this webinar, please contact us at or 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752) at least two weeks prior to the webinar. Without prior notification of need, we may not be able to provide appropriate accommodations for the live event.

Archived Recording

If you're unable to attend this live webinar, an archived recording will be available to all registrants typically within 1–3 business of the live event. Access to closed captions will be provided in the webinar recording.

Tech Requirements

This webinar will be presented using the Zoom platform. Please review Zoom technical requirements and support information, and test your connection.

Once you've joined the webinar, there are two ways to connect your audio: via computer (VoIP) or via telephone. No microphone is required. PLA works with its webinar platform provider to assure the highest quality audio is being delivered to attendees. However, variables over which PLA has no control—such as the speed of your Internet connection or traffic on your local network—can affect the end quality of the webinar audio delivered by your computer. Each webinar’s audio is also available by telephone via a toll number, so we recommend you have access to a long-distance enabled phone as a backup in case you experience audio issues with VoIP. If you do encounter any problems during the webinar, you will receive a link to its archived recording within a week of the live event and can review anything you missed.


This webinar is presented by the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

Questions about this webinar? Please contact us at or 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752).

Public Library Association (PLA) logo