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Mobile Library to Highlight Black, Female Writers in Bed-Stuy

By Camille Bautista | May 1, 2015 1:13pm | Updated on May 4, 2015 8:48am
 The Free Black Woman's Library will be stationed at local parks and community gardens throughout the summer.
The Free Black Woman's Library will be stationed at local parks and community gardens throughout the summer.
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Olaronke Akinmowo

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A bike-drawn library aimed at spotlighting the works of black women is making its way to Bed-Stuy this summer.

The Free Black Woman’s Library, the brainchild of Brooklyn artist Olaronke Akinmowo, will travel through Bed-Stuy’s community gardens and parks through the summer as a way of honoring the writers.

The mobile collection will house 100 books, and visitors work through the honor system of “take a book and leave a book,” according to Akinmowo.

“Your book is your currency, as long as they’re written by black women,” she said.

Akinmowo, an avid cyclist, plans on moving the library throughout the neighborhood in a trailer using her bike and stationing the collection in public spaces for a set amount of time.

The Free Black Woman’s Library will also host literary events around the trailer, including readings, an examination of Southern folklore and mythology, women in Afro-futuristic science fiction and black women in poetry.

“Due to patriarchy and racism, black women often get shut out of very important community conversations,” Akinmowo said. “I want to offer an alternative safe space for them to be themselves and discover parts of who they are.”

With the help of arts organization Culture Push, the Bed-Stuy resident also hopes to install a solar panel in the trailer that will provide power for music during community gatherings.

Akinomowo is in the process of collecting books for the project, including works by Toni Morrison, Zadie Smith, Octavia E. Butler, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The library will hit the road in June, she said.  

Readers can donate by sending new or used books to 1072 Bedford Avenue, #39, Brooklyn, NY 11216. For more information, visit the Free Black Woman’s Library Facebook page.