“Access to knowledge is the superb, the supreme act of truly great civilizations. Of all the institutions that purport to do this, free libraries stand virtually alone in accomplishing this.” - Toni Morrison
The Free Black Women's Library is a social art project, traveling library and interactive installation that features a collection of over three thousand books written by Black women. This collection contains books of every genre, for readers of all ages, as well as comic books, zines, journals, chapbooks, books on tape and other self published works. The library provides an inclusive and accessible space for reading, writing, learning, resting, creating and connecting.
Founded by OlaRonke Akinmowo, in the spring of 2015, the library has popped up monthly in various locations throughout NYC, (and even outside of NYC ) in museums, schools, art galleries, community gardens, parks, cultural centers and many other public locations. Each month we offer free public programming, that includes writing workshops, performances, film screenings, poetry readings, author/book talks, literary games and radical conversations on race, culture and gender.
All ages, races and genders are welcome to visit the library, take part in all our activities, spend time in the library and trade books written by Black women with the collection, and each other.
For the past five years the library has been a community funded labor of love held on shaky ground, through the support of a small group of Patreon patrons and a tiny team of sweet volunteers.
We are now looking to become a small permanent cultural institution with specific things in place, please support us in making three specific dreams come true.
1. A store front or loft space where the book collection can live and be used by the community. It will serve the public as a reading room, community resource, literary hub and chamber for work that is radical, creative and collaborative. This space will be inclusive and accessible to book lovers of every age, race and gender.
2. A school bus or van that we can refurbish and transform into a vehicle to transport the books from place to place, for our library installations and presentations. This vehicle will serve as our official bookmobile that can be taken to any and every neighborhood, so that different communities can experience and enjoy the collection.
(This would be an extra special blessing as we would no longer need to be at the mercy of the moods of Lyft and Uber drivers, who sometimes see a Black woman with a stack of boxes on a corner and just continue to drive by. )
3. A librarian/archivist, or highly organized person who has a deep love for books and community. This person would manage the collection, supervise the space, engage with library visitors and take care of all the day to day tasks that this project requires. We would like to pay this person a living wage with a portion of the funds raised here.
Funds collected via this GoFundMe will be used towards making all these three special dreams come true!!
It has been a long and amazing five years off this work that has felt both tiring and neccesary.
We are deeply grateful for all the love, appreciation and support this project has received over the years, and are hoping this crowdfunding campaign will give us the seed money we need to make it autonomous and sustainable.
Like Audre Lorde we believe, " without community there is no liberation" - in this moment we look to community to help us in creating a radical space of liberation for all.
The library has resisted and survived for 5 plus years, please help us THRIVE!!
Thank you for believing in us!!