The library’s Black Cultural Library Advocates

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Members of the BCLA team standing behind a table decorated for Kwanzaa. english
Being able to help bring joy and resources to people in my community and working with people who want to do the same, is the best part of being in BCLA
Nicole Berlin, library access services assistant

The Black Cultural Library Advocates (BCLA) are library team members who focus on strengthening the connection between the Black community and Multnomah County Library. BCLA members connect people to services they need — whether through the county or with outside organizations. 

The BCLA team ensures that Black people in Multnomah County have unimpeded access to library services such as early literacy, adult learning services, job search assistance, reader’s advisory, tech help, and outreach services. 

Through programs like Black Storytime the library promotes early literacy for babies through pre-k. The adult learning services available provide literacy help, English as a second language, and even job assistance. Through reader’s advisory, staff introduce community members to books written by Black authors from different genres. Via tech help, patrons learn how to use their devices (computer, phone, printer, etc.), and bring specific questions in for assistance. 

The outreach services BCLA staff provide includes going to schools, local community centers, events and more. BCLA shares about library services, like helping patrons find specific books, assisting students with locating research material, reserving and renewing books. Through these connections, schools will sometimes reserve tours of the library with their classrooms, expanding library knowledge even further.

"It is connecting everyone to services and giving them confidence and empowerment to advocate for themselves. Not only in the library but also outside of it,” says SyNova Blackwell, BCLA library assistant.

This team was intentionally developed to support, connect, and listen to the Black Americans and Black immigrants in the community. 

BCLA team members are committed to making and maintaining community connections, creating a safe space, and highlighting Black culture through displays and programming. 

“Being able to help bring joy and resources to people in my community and working with people who want to do the same, is the best part of being in BCLA,” says Nicole Berlin, library access services assistant.

The BCLA team includes librarians, outreach specialists, researchers, educators, and advocates for digital literacy. They are library staff and community members who want to see friends, family, and neighborhoods have access to resources and information that can help them grow and prosper. 

The BCLA team works to preserve and share the community's past, present and future by offering educational programs, books and online resources that focus on the history of Black people in the Pacific Northwest. Through the Black Pacific Northwest Collection and the Black Resources Collection patrons can find literature, music, film, and other creative expressions. The team also supports Black creatives and educators by collaborating with them to create new and interesting programming and events. 

To connect with a BCLA member, please reach out! Currently, 15 libraries have BCLA team members. Visit the BCLA at these locations: Albina, St. Johns, Kenton, Hollywood, Central, Capitol Hill, Hillsdale, Sellwood, Gregory Heights, Gresham, Midland, North Portland, Fairview-Columbia, Troutdale and Rockwood libraries. Some locations are closed for construction so please refer to the location hours before making a visit. Learn more about the new libraries coming your way.