Welcome to The BiblioUnderground, a grassroots Library & Information Science (LIS) social justice movement and aspiring nonprofit whose mission is to turn victims of domestic violence (DV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) into survivors by creating “Book-it 2 Freedom Kits” (Bi2FKs): prepaid phones, programmed by volunteer library staff with DV resources, hidden within discarded library books, and distributed in the most sensible way for each individual or community.
Most libraries routinely “weed” their collections of materials to create space for new items. Discards can be transformed into secret vessels that hold the key for many people who need an escape- a mobile phone that their abuser doesn’t know exists.
The phone is a literal beacon of hope; without unfettered access to the outside world many victims of DV remain trapped in highly controlled environments by their abusers. Preloading the phone with essential information and local contacts is one less obstacle in their path on their way out the door to freedom.
DV/IPV is extremely common. In the United States:
1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime. [source]
On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner, equating to more than 10 million women and men annually. [source]
The most dangerous time for a survivor is when they leave the abusive partner; 75% of domestic violence-related homicides occur upon separation and there is a 75% increase in violence upon separation for at least 2 years. [source]
The project began in March 2022 when a friend confided in me about their abusive marriage. Among other vile acts, including physical abuse and threats with weapons, the abuser would take their phone, money & car keys away when angry or jealous,i.e., no way to communicate or physically leave their shared domicile.
I had an extra phone & line via my family plan, so I provided them with an “untraceable” mobile phone. Before passing the phone, I created a secret email account, added DV & other social service phone numbers & hotlines in the Contacts & left notes about Massachusetts DV resources* in the phone, allowing them to plan an escape.
The idea of crafting a book as a “safe” to hide the phone came later after they realized they didn’t have a place to hide the phone. Using a discarded library book, a crude but workable book safe was created. Using the phone, my friend was able to connect with lawyers, DV/IVP support groups/non-profits, and was able to make a safety plan and finally leave their marriage in Summer 2022.
All money received will be used toward Bi2FKs and spreading awareness of the BiblioUnderground.