These Free Mini Libraries Popping Up Around NYC Are Dedicated To Sharing BIPOC Voices

Find them in Chinatown, Jackson Heights, Harlem & more to come!

Claire Leaden Claire Leaden

These Free Mini Libraries Popping Up Around NYC Are Dedicated To Sharing BIPOC Voices

Amplify Library’s mission is exactly what its name says: to amplify underrepresented voices in our society.

The NYC project started last June, at the apex of the Black Lives Matter movement. Founder Virginia Polik, along with follower organizers, work to build free mini libraries in different NYC communities, offering works only by Black or BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) authors to help center and celebrate their words, as well as offer resources for anti-racist conversations.

Their first library landed in Chinatown, at 76 Mott St. right in front of Happy Veggie Restaurant back in August.

When the group decides on their location, they make sure to work hand-in-hand with a local organization to make sure the location is right for the community, plus to source volunteers who will help curate the works to make sure they are engaging and fit with the mission. For Chinatown, they partnered with Send Chinatown Love, which is “providing relief efforts to small, off-the-grid businesses in Chinatown NYC suffering from the impacts of COVID-19.” They also organized a food crawl which you can participate in this weekend to help support Chinatown restaurants!

Claire Leaden for Secret NYC

“The fact that it’s BIPOC-only make it really different to me,” said fellow organizer Jessica Nelson. “It makes it so you’re guaranteed to get a different perspective, and help the community thrive with love and support.”

In September they launched a library in Jackson Heights, Queens. You can find it outside of The Queensboro restaurant at 80-02 Northern Blvd. It’s also next to the Jackson Heights Community Fridge, which offers free and fresh groceries 24/7 for whomever may need it, a community effort that has only expanded during the pandemic.

Most recently, they expanded to Bushwick right next to Mil Mundos (323 Linden St., Brooklyn), a “Latinx-run bookstore in Bushwick dedicated to combating gentrification by creating a space where Black, Latinx, and Indigenous heritage is celebrated.” This Amplify Library location features all books in Spanish, the most common language in Bushwick. And, in Harlem, where they partnered with Harlem Community Fridge and Silvana NYC. Find it at 302 W 116th (116 in between Fredrick Douglas blvd and Manhattan Ave).

Claire Leaden for Secret NYC

If you’d like to help support, there are a few things you can do:

  • Donate books by BIPOC authors…not from Amazon! Make sure you double the support by purchasing from a Black or person of color-owned book shop. You can see a list of those on their website here. You can mail books (which also helps support the USPS) to: Amplify Library, 3925 61st St., #770856, Woodside, NY 11377. Children’s books by BIPOC authors are especially sought-after.
  • If you would like to bring an Amplify Library to your neighborhood, even if it’s outside of NYC, contact them by email at amplifylibrary@gmail.com or DM’ing them on Instagram.
  • Volunteer! You can contact the group for more direct instruction, but you can also go visit the library nearest you, yourself! Give a book, take a book, and check to make sure all the books currently in the library are in line with the mission (by BIPOC authors).

Follow along @AmplifyLibrary.

featured image source: Claire Leaden for Secret NYC

See also: 10 Books To Invest In Now That Will Help Educate You On Systemic Racism

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