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  • Writer's picturebeyond the stacks

Why a mobile library?

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

On the vision that led to beyond the stacks and where we want to go next

It started as a wish.

You know when you're talking to someone at work (and you don't work in a library), at the bar, or at a family gathering, and a heated issue comes up, and you just wish you had the perfect book on hand to give to this person? About racial injustice and incarceration? About how the gender binary is a fiction? About the cruel and limitless expanses of American militarism?

The trunk library is a manifestation of this wish realized.

A number of times, at work, a patron has requested a title that's currently checked out from the library. They have always been highly requested titles in light of the summer of 2020's #BlackLivesMatter protests. The New Jim Crow. Between the World and Me. Beloved.

"I have a copy of that in my trunk! Do you want it?"

Not the most enticing sales pitch, and perhaps a little creepy. Thus came my efforts to legitimize this operation in the form of a catalog and website.

It occurred to me, however, that the community in which I live and work was framing my vision of what the trunk library is and who it is for. In my imagined purpose for the trunk library, I was providing educational books about social justice issues to privileged people who may not understand the damaging impact of their beliefs (we all start there). But what about the marginalized people whose access to stories in which they are represented, validated, and celebrated is limited?

And here comes phase 2. Beyond the Stacks' mobile library is not just a collection of primer texts so that I can give to people in an I-told-you-so moment (although this is, still, a part of the work I rather quite like). It must also be a mobile collection of books--especially for youth--in which white people, straight cis people, able-bodied people, neurotypical people are not centered.

To this end, we particularly appreciate donations of children's and teen's books that show and celebrate the lives of kids and families of color, of queer families, and of authentic experiences of life from all the prismatic angles of the human experience we can know and recognize.

Stay tuned. Taking off the privilege goggles is an ongoing process.

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