About the Augusta Baker Chair
Part of a Children, Libraries and Literacy Initiative of the University of South Carolina School of Information Science, the chair honors Augusta Braxton Baker, a legendary and beloved children’s librarian, and storyteller who made South Carolina her home after a 37-year career at the New York Public Library.
A trailblazer for black librarianship, she was the first black person to earn a B.S. in library and information studies from SUNY Albany; she wrote "Books about Negro Life for Children" (later renamed "The Black Experience in Children's Books"), the first extensive bibliography of children’s books that featured positive black role models; and, she was the first African American Coordinator of Children’s Services for all 82 libraries within the NY Public Library system, where she worked tirelessly throughout her career to diversify the genre of children’s literature and to make books for children and young adults more reflective of the young people who read them.
Baker served as the university's storyteller-in-residence for 14 years from 1980 to 1994. Her legacy lives on through the Augusta Baker Collection of Children's Literature and Folklore and the “Baker’s Dozen: A Celebration of Stories," which is an annual storytelling festival sponsored by the School of Information Science, College of Information and Communications and Richland Library.
Dr. Nicole A. Cooke became the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and an associate professor at the School of Information Science in 2019. Dr. Cooke is a 2012 graduate from Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in communication, information, and library studies. She holds the MLS degree from Rutgers University and a M.Ed. in Adult Education from Pennsylvania State University.
Cooke’s research and teaching interests include human information behavior, fake news consumption and resistance, critical cultural information studies, and diversity and social justice in librarianship.
Cooke was named a Mover & Shaker by Library Journal in 2007, she was awarded the 2016 ALA Equality Award, and she was presented with the 2017 ALA Achievement in Library Diversity Research Award, presented by the Office for Diversity and Literacy Outreach Services. She has also been honored as the Illinois Library Association’s 2019 Intellectual Freedom Award winner in recognition of her work in combating online hate and bullying in LIS, and she was selected as the Association for Library and Information Science Education's 2019 Excellence in Teaching award winner. In 2021 she was presented with the Martin Luther King, Jr., Social Justice Award by the University of South Carolina.
Now the founding editor of ALA Neal-Schuman's Critical Cultural Information Studies book series, Cooke has published numerous articles and book chapters. Her books include “Information Services to Diverse Populations” (Libraries Unlimited, 2016), “Fake News and Alternative Facts: Information Literacy in a Post-truth Era" (ALA Editions, 2018), and “Foundations of Social Justice (ALA Editions, expected in 2023).