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Solange launches a library for rare books by Black authors

The thing about rare books is that they're, well, rare -- which means too many hidden gems are well out of reach for the everyday literary enthusiast.

Solange is trying to change that. The singer's creative studio Saint Heron recently launched a free community library that aims to increase access to rare and out-of-print works by Black and brown authors.

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.

The library's collections will vary by season, each compiled by a guest curator. Behind the first batch of books is Rosa Duffy, founder of the Atlanta-based book shop For Keeps Books, which specializes in rare and classic Black books and also functions as a community space. That collection will be available through November, according to Variety.

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.

"For this Saint Heron Library collection, it was really focusing on the people that we know and love, but we might not know the details of what they do," Duffy said in an interview with Saint Heron. "So highlighting these artists, I think that's really important, because then you get to the different mediums and the different spaces that we can move throughout that we might not always be affirmed that we can move through."

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.

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by Anonymousreply 32October 22, 2021 12:43 AM

Good for her that’s really cool.

by Anonymousreply 1October 21, 2021 4:52 AM

Don't tell Michael K from DListed or he will riff on the lame "Basement Baby" name he has for her.

by Anonymousreply 2October 21, 2021 4:55 AM

See, now this is what celebrities should be doing with their influence, not harassing small businesses about their allegedly-inadequate frozen yogurt and navel gazing on social media.

by Anonymousreply 3October 21, 2021 5:01 AM

What is a "brown author"? Anyone with a deep enough tan?

by Anonymousreply 4October 21, 2021 5:41 AM

During the pandemic, an unprecedented act of kindness occurred: Buyonce expanded her sister's dwellings. The library will be in the brand new subbasement, baby!

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by Anonymousreply 5October 21, 2021 6:22 AM

OK, so 50 rare books will be available for loan for up to 45 days to all 329.5 million American citizens who would like one, and this initial offering runs from mid-October to the end of November. I'm sorry, but I don't see that as being much of anything, really. I suspect that if the books are, in fact, rare, their copyrights may have come to term, and unless renewed, would now be in the public domain. Wouldn't it make more sense to reprint the books, or better yet, digitize them, and make them available for reading online? If the copyrights still existed, my guess would be that the literary estates of the authors would welcome the chance to sell the rights, or release them for reprinting.

Good idea...poor execution that will not end well.

by Anonymousreply 6October 21, 2021 6:40 AM

This makes absolutely no sense?

by Anonymousreply 7October 21, 2021 6:44 AM

Solange and Beyonce seem so stupid. I worry about their safety.

by Anonymousreply 8October 21, 2021 6:54 AM

Whatever funds they are using to do this would be better served by taking one of these titles every year that is out of print, having it republished and giving away a few thousand copies to public libraries who can handle the borrowing aspect and selling the rest for profit to funnel money back into the project. That’s how they could make an impact and actually get them into the maximum number of peoples hands. It’s idiotic that people think they need to reinvent the public library, not to mention you can use WorldCat to find out where there are copies geographically near you or have anything you want interlibrary loaned.

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by Anonymousreply 9October 21, 2021 6:58 AM

Solange who?

by Anonymousreply 10October 21, 2021 7:05 AM

Personally, I get Solange and Melange confused and onetime I ended up at a concert for peas, corn and carrots.

by Anonymousreply 11October 21, 2021 7:11 AM

I as a brown person will from now on only read books written by white authors. I feel they are underrepresented and need my support. I just feel it..... Apart from that it would be wiser to digitalize these books so no one needs to borrow these "rarities" at all and many will have access to them online. Although, I am not surprised that they didn't come to this conclusion with having such a regressive idea in in the first place.

by Anonymousreply 12October 21, 2021 7:26 AM

R12 Unfortunately, the digital divide disproportionately affects African American families and having eBook versions many times fails to serve these communities who may not have devices or WiFi or in a final option may be reduced to downloading them on phones, which is far from optimal and may in fact discourage them even more from engaging in the text.

by Anonymousreply 13October 21, 2021 7:36 AM

Do black communities seriously care about reading rare books? Real question.

by Anonymousreply 14October 21, 2021 7:38 AM

[quote]Do black communities seriously care about reading rare books? Real question.

A real stupid question. "Do black communities know how to read or even want to read these books they couldn't even read if they wanted to go out and get them?"

[quote]I'm sorry, but I don't see that as being much of anything, really.

"I'm sorry" but it's probably more than you're doing.

What this is doing is bringing awareness. If you're lucky enough to get a book they pay to ship it to you and pay to ship it back to them. People can check and learn about the titles and the authors. It will change every few months. It's really just saying, "look at this list of books you may not have known about" rather than saying, "sorry this book is out! Better luck next time!"

And it costs the public absolutely nothing.

by Anonymousreply 15October 21, 2021 7:54 AM

R14 Really, they are not really using the term “rare books” correctly in that it refers specifically to more academic and scholarly works that are valuable historically, culturally or as part of the antiquarian market. It is a very specific term mostly tied to archives and rare book collectors and dealers. What they mean are hard to find or out of print books, which can be a problem. Before Alice Walker heavily promoted Zora Neal Huston, her body of writing was almost completely out of print and she literally needed to be rediscovered. That’s why it’s obvious no actual librarians were involved in this project.

by Anonymousreply 16October 21, 2021 7:57 AM

^^^ Hurston

by Anonymousreply 17October 21, 2021 7:59 AM

R13 You don't need ebooks to read text on the internet and providing these books online reaches more people than one library. In case they only want to read those books because the authors are of a certain skin color it's their own fault for ignoring other books anyway. I haven't read one book from my heritage because there are plenty of others which I find more interesting. You are either interested in reading or you aren't.

by Anonymousreply 18October 21, 2021 8:01 AM

It sounds good but isn't particularly practical. Why not approach Apple or Spotify and have her read the books into audio format as well? The majority of people have a phone no matter what their income level and this would increase awareness and help bridge the digital divide that someone mentioned above.

Companies would be falling over themselves to get involved in something like this. They could also have other black celebrities read the books too.

by Anonymousreply 19October 21, 2021 8:05 AM

[quote]I haven't read one book from my heritage because there are plenty of others which I find more interesting.

This is actually really sad.

Imagine never reading any gay books because you only find straight books interesting. Imagine not reading anything you want because you find the topic interesting.

by Anonymousreply 20October 21, 2021 8:28 AM

I raise my voice in righteous anger that Encyclopedia BROWM is not on the list of books to be included. My muzak selection of songs like Mrs BROWN you've got a lovely daughter and Paint it, BLACK was also rejected by Lozenge.Thus, I cry like Charlie BROWN when Lucy pulls the football away. AAAHHRGH!

by Anonymousreply 21October 21, 2021 11:00 AM

Enclyclopedia BROWN. ^^^

by Anonymousreply 22October 21, 2021 11:01 AM

That's pretty cool, you never hear about celebrities using their money for things like this so I hope this starts a trend.

I don't care for the boutique angle here, having a different collection available per season and only loaning them out in physical copies, but they're probably doing that because they don't want publishers to get pissy with them like they did with the Internet Archive. Hopefully they can start finding copyright status on some of these books and funding a print run of them to get them to schools and libraries.

by Anonymousreply 23October 21, 2021 11:38 AM

Does this mean there will be a delay for a new album. Her last one sold a whopping 11,000 copies.

by Anonymousreply 24October 21, 2021 12:12 PM

Black communities? Black people are individuals, just like white people. This idea that every black person is one needs to die.

by Anonymousreply 25October 21, 2021 4:56 PM

[quote]"I'm sorry" but it's probably more than you're doing.

LOL, R15...you have no idea what I do, but I can guarantee you, its a whole hell of a lot more than you, you sanctimonious, oh-so-woke dumb fuck. Go back to mommy's basement and play Minecraft.

by Anonymousreply 26October 21, 2021 5:13 PM

Everything MUST be black! History MUST be rewritten in our image! Erase EVERYTHING not black! We will ONLY tolerate black people, reading thing by black people! Watching things by black people! Voting for only black people! Black! Black, Black BLack!! Why do you only see my skin color?! Equality is color blind! BLACK! Black Black Black! Black, Black, Black!

by Anonymousreply 27October 21, 2021 5:46 PM

R27 who said all that? Please tell me.

by Anonymousreply 28October 21, 2021 6:21 PM

[R27] Is still appalled he has to use the same restroom as colored folk.

by Anonymousreply 29October 21, 2021 6:59 PM

I like Solange's music and I think this is a pretty cool idea.

I guess the wrong Knowles got super famous.

by Anonymousreply 30October 21, 2021 8:04 PM

Solange’s look and voice aren’t mainstream. She’s very indie.

Beyoncé is conventionally the more attractive sister.

by Anonymousreply 31October 21, 2021 8:12 PM

I love Solange. I find her so much more fascinating and much prettier too than her dull and overrated big sister. Of course, people in this thread would find something wrong with this but Solange gives detailed interviews, names all of her inspirations and understands the Black Arts movement. If anything Beyoncé jacked her little sister's style and aesthetic for Lemonade. A Seat At The Table and When I Get Home both shit on Bey's recent albums.

by Anonymousreply 32October 22, 2021 12:43 AM
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