The initiative launched this Monday, and features a curated collection of 50 books that readers in the US can borrow for up to 45 days. The collection spans fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, visual arts and more, and is directed at students, artists, designers, musicians and literary aficionados.
“We hope that by encountering these works, our community is inspired to further explore and study the breadth of artistic expression and the impact of Blackness in creative innovation throughout history,” Saint Heron says on its website.
Many of the authors featured in Saint Heron’s initial collection will likely be familiar to bookworms: Octavia Butler, Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Audre Lorde and Ntozake Shange are among the big names. Duffy, however, highlights works of theirs that might be lesser known.
Duffy spoke about the ways that rare books have often been inaccessible to Black readers and how she wanted to shift that reality.
“The library is so that these things that were meant to be in our hands are just in our hands in the same way that they were printed in the East Village, handed out for $1.50 by the droves,” Duffy said. “That’s kind of what I’m trying to mimic or duplicate.”
Readers are allowed to borrow one book a person on a first come, first served basis. The books will be shipped to community members with the cost of shipping and returns included.