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Nov 04 2011

Mobile App Provides Walking Tour of African American History at NC State University

Media Contact: David Hiscoe, NCSU Libraries, (919) 513-3425

home screen of Red, White & BlackThe North Carolina State University Libraries is proud to release Red, White & Black, a new mobile web app that allows users to employ their smart phones and other mobile devices to embark on a self-guided walking tour that highlights the rich history of African Americans at NC State (www.lib.ncsu.edu/m/exhibits/redwhiteblack).

From 1939 when Ellen McGuire, a former slave who retired from NC State after working for fifty years mostly in the infirmary, to 1957 when Robert Clemons became the first African American to graduate from the university (with a professional degree in electrical engineering), to 2010 when students were confronted with racial epithets painted in the Freedom Expression Tunnel, this walking tour allows users to explore, at their own pace, spaces on NC State’s campus that have had significant impact on the lives and experiences of African American students, employees, and the larger community.

This tour integrates extensive existing digital collections from the NCSU Libraries with student research and student readings to provide access to events, images, and stories that help to tell this important history. The location-aware web app allows students to connect with university history in the places in which they learn every day, further engaging them with the people, events, and environment that have shaped their campus. Owners of devices that do not support GPS or other location-detection methods can still manually navigate through the website to enjoy a historical tour of African American history and achievement at NC State.

app screenshot showing audio capabilitiesRed, White & Black builds on the success of the April 2011 in-person guided walking tour. A collaboration of the NCSU Libraries, the Department of History, and the African American Cultural Center, the original walk began with a discussion, led by Dr. Blair Kelley of the Department of History, focusing on the long civil rights movement in higher education.  The talk was followed by a walking tour of campus, led by Dr. Walter Jackson from the Department of History and by Ms. Toni Thorpe of the African American Cultural Center—and concluded at the African American Cultural Center where participants had an opportunity to reflect together on the university’s history. The first walk was so well received and attended that the NCSU Libraries wished to make it available on a wider and on-demand basis.

A similar in-person tour of the places on campus that have had significant impact on the lives and experiences of African American students and the community will be led by Dr. Jackson and Ms. Thorpe on November 7, 2011, beginning at 4:30 p.m. on the steps of the D. H. Hill Library. This program is free and open to the public.

According to Greg Raschke, associate director for collections and scholarly communication at the Libraries, “as the official repository for the university, the University Archives in the NCSU Libraries has mountains of incredibly interesting material about the past here at NC State.  The Red, White & Black app contains history that everyone should know, and the mobile app gives us a great new way to extend the reach of our archives and give the university community and the people of North Carolina even more value from the history that we collect for them.”

app screenshot showing map of campusRed, White & Black is the second mobile tour of the NC State campus developed by the NCSU Libraries. WolfWalk, released in 2010, provides a comprehensive self-guided historical walk through NC State’s campus and is available as iPhone and iPad apps as a free download from the App Store.

“The NCSU Libraries embraces the role of incubating new technologies for the university and for the library community around the world,” says Susan K. Nutter, vice provost and director of the NCSU Libraries.  “Looking forward, we see mobile technologies playing a key role in the services we offer.  WolfWalk and the new Red, White & Black app give us great experience that we’ll put to good use in the new James B. Hunt Jr. Library (www.lib.ncsu.edu/huntlibrary).”