Inspired by the Little Free Libraries around the globe, Amplify Library is a new progressive concept which centers on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) authors. If you aren’t aware of Little Free Libraries, these tiny libraries are placed in various communities, parks, and even unassuming places. There’s two in my neighborhood alone, and I absolutely love exploring the wide genre of books that are left behind by generous readers. It’s a take one, leave one kind of operation, and Amplify Library works the same way.
Created by Virginia Polik and Jessica Nelson, the two friends joined forces in order to make space for more diverse books that are accessible. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, they wanted to create a more long-lasting change that went further than spreading anti-racist reading lists on social media. “Someone posts something [to Instagram] one day and forgets about it the next,” Nelson said in an interview with Curbed. “There’s no action … It was frustrating to me.”
Instead of strictly populating Amplify Libraries with anti-racist content, Polik and Nelson found it imperitive to also highlight works by authors of color. Examples of books you may find include Maya Angelou’s classic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, No Ashes in the Fire by Darnell L. Moore, and So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. With help from partnering organizations, the libraries are stocked with books that are relevant for the neighborhoods in which they reside, and feature material for all age groups. Many books are sourced from BIPOC-owned bookstores as well.
Currently only in New York City, the co-founders are looking at ways to expand Amplify Library in the most sustainable way. “A lot of people don’t have exposure to Black authors; I didn’t when I was in high school,” said Nelson. “We’re creating a space where kids can come and know it’s different from any other free little library.”Stay up to date with Amplify Library and their growth by visiting @amplifylibrary on Instagram, or amplifylibrary.org.