Events, Featured, Library News

Celebrating 50 Years of Hip Hop at Walsh Library

By Tierney Gleason, Reference and Digital Humanities Librarian

Image credit: “@ 5Pointz” by Pelle Sten via Flickr Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / A derivative from the original work.

Hip hop might not be a subject that comes to mind when thinking about academic libraries, but it should. While library buildings are known for being quiet places, the wide range of content inside our many books, journals, databases, and multimedia resources is anything but quiet. Fordham Libraries holds print and digital items covering art, music, and poetry from around the world that speak passionately about all aspects of the human experience, including hip hop.

As a university with its original campus in the Bronx, we try our best to collect items that document local history and culture. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip hop, we decided to put hip hop research materials in the library on display in the Reference Area to make them more visible. Beginning near the Interlibrary Loan Office and stretching across the room, we have some print books and bound magazines on display along with signs that link to our library catalog, electronic books, open access digital collections, and streaming videos. Topics covered include Bronx history, the four elements or pillars of hip hop, fashion, Caribbean influences, women in hip hop, LGBTQ+ hip hop, religion, periodicals, local resources, and more.

Image description: A few images showing books and magazines on display along with signs with QR codes listing additional resources arranged by topic.

When people think of libraries, they often think of library buildings and stacks of print books alone. However, computers and technology are integral parts of all library collections and operations. Our electronic library catalog helps us locate our 1.5 million print books, almost 1.4 million ebooks, 452 databases, 110,000 journals (print and digital), plus 38,446 streaming audio and video materials…and counting! For this reason, our hip hop exhibit uses QR codes that can be scanned by smartphone cameras to connect researchers with our online catalog and databases.

Image description: Scanning QR codes with a smartphone shows entries for books in the Classic Library Catalog.

In the images above, scanning the QR code next to Graffiti Grrlz: Performing Feminism in the Hip Hip Diaspora by Jessica Nydia Pabón-Colón (NYU Press, 2018) opens up the Classic Catalog to show that Fordham has access to this book in print and electronic formats. For physical items, scanning the QR codes shows if a print book or audio CD is currently available and the campus library location.

For ebooks and streaming videos, the QR codes offer immediate access to digital content after logging in through The images below walk through the process for accessing the documentary Style Wars (dir. Tony Silver, 1983) on a smartphone. If you need any help accessing any of the electronic resources included in the exhibit, just ask at the Reference Desk for assistance, or use our Ask a Librarian service.

Image description: Scanning a QR code for digital content will ask for a Fordham login then proceed to online resources.

Our exhibit also links to cultural heritage institutions locally and beyond offering archival content and/or digital collections relating to hip hop including The Schomburg & New York Public Library, The Universal Hip Hop Museum, The Bronx County Historical Society, The Cornell Hip Hop Collection, and The Smithsonian.

We are excited to have you visit the Reference Room on the first floor of the Wash Library to check out the exhibit. If you do not come to the Bronx often, take a look at our Hip Hop History research guide page. We will be posting documentation about the exhibit listing all of the print and electronic resources on display in the coming weeks. And, as always, ask a librarian if you have questions or need research help!

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