About the Augusta Baker Chair
Part of a Children, Libraries and Literacy Initiative of USC’s School of Library and Information Science, the chair honors Augusta Braxton Baker, a beloved children’s librarian and storyteller who made South Carolina her home after a 37-year career at the New York Public Library. The first African American Coordinator of Children’s Services within the NY Public Library system, 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. Dr. Baker served as USC’s storyteller-in-residence for 14 years from 1980 to 1994.
The First Chairholder
Dr. Michelle Martin, who specializes in children’s literature, African-American children’s literature and community literacy programs, joined the USC faculty in August 2011 as the Augusta Baker Chair in Childhood Literacy and served in this capacity until July 2016.
As Augusta Baker Chair, Dr. Martin conducted literature and literacy research that she hoped would positively impact literacy in South Carolina and beyond. Martin is the founder of the Read-a-Rama program (begun in 2001) and co-founder with Dr. Rachelle D. Washington of Camp Read-a-Rama (2009). Read-a-Rama and Camp Read-a-Rama programs brought young people together with college students and college graduates who have studied children’s literature for book celebration programs that teach children and teens to “live books.” Read-a-Rama programs and camps used children’s and young adult books as the springboard for all other activities.