Joy Bivins Named Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

By: Alyssa Wilson

Joy Bivins has been named the director of the renowned Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library after an exhaustive search. She is the first woman to lead the center in 40 years. 

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She served as the Associate Director of Collections and Research Services at the library since June 2020, with nearly 20 years of expertise in leadership and curatorial knowledge.  

“After a year of unprecedented isolation, during which we saw the centrality of the Black Lives Matter movement, we need to come together again and make sense of what we have lived through,” she said. “The Schomburg Center, with its robust collections and rich legacy, has a key role to play in this moment, bringing people together, facilitating conversations, and continuing to ensure that the perspectives and histories of the Black community and members of the African Diaspora are preserved and understood.”  

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Bivins will focus on increasing the visibility of the center, reaching new people, and making the collections more accessible in-person and online. More than 11 million items are in the center’s possession, including the collections of Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Sonny Rollins, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Ann Petry and Malcolm X.  

“The stories that the Schomburg’s collections tell are so important, and should be shared as broadly as possible,” Bivins said. “Making those collections as accessible as possible to those in Harlem, in New York City, and beyond must be a priority. It’s one thing to have collections. It’s another to make them accessible, and then another to make sense of what they mean to our current world. That’s what I’m excited to share.” 

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