Helen Lemme Reading Club Library Grand Opening & Dedication

May 2, 2019

05:00 PM - 07:00 PM

Afro American Cultural Center,

303 Melrose Avenue, Iowa City, IA 52246

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Photo of open books

Please join us for the grand opening of The Helen Lemme Reading Club Library at the Afro American Cultural Center. Remarks begin at 5:00 PM. Light refreshments will be provided. Come browse the collection, chat with members of the project team, and learn about the inspiration behind the new lending library. 

Project History 

While exploring the archival holdings of The University of Iowa Special Collections & Iowa Women's Archives, a team of staff and students from The Afro American Cultural Center and The University of Iowa Libraries discovered a collection of materials about The Helen Lemme Reading Club (HLRC). The HLRC was a group composed of graduate students, faculty, and staff at The University of Iowa who met regularly at the Afro American Cultural Center during the 1980s and 1990s. Originally founded in 1983 by University of Iowa graduate students, The Third Thursday Reading Club was renamed the HLRC in the late 80’s to reflect upon the legacy and impact of Helen Lemme. The group was originally formed to “combat feeling of isolation in a mostly white environment,” and “to provide a forum for African-American men and women to meet and discuss literary works by and about African-Americans” (E.M. Hernandex, HLRC Records, 2000). 

This last year the project team has worked to breathe life back into the intentions of the Helen Lemme Reading Club and have created a new lending library called, The Helen Lemme Reading Club Library (HLRCL). The new HLRC Library is housed in the Afro American Cultural Center and available to all students, staff, and faculty for browsing and check-out. 

This project was made possible by the support of a Diversity Catalyst Seed Grant and a Supplemental Theme Semester Grant from The University of Iowa Office of Outreach & Engagement. Special thanks to the Librarians for Social Justice volunteers who helped catalog and prepare the books. 

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact in advance at