Woman in Northeast Ohio builds little free libraries to promote Black voices, anti-racism

Woman in Northeast Ohio builds little free libraries to promote Black voices, anti-racism
Posted at 11:45 AM, Oct 06, 2020

LAKEWOOD, Ohio - Lizzie Ackerman loves to read.

"We found that it's really valuable and rewarding to learn about people that are different than us,” said Ackerman.

When Ackerman thought about how she would get involved with the Black Lives Matter Movement, she knew just what to do.

"Sharing books about people who are different than we felt like a really good way to educate ourselves and our community just about the world around us,” she said.

This Lakewood resident is starting her very own little free diverse library.

It will work similarly to all the little free libraries we’ve seen across Northeast Ohio, except this one will only carry books from Black authors, feature Black people or educate folks on how to be anti-racist. It will also feature topics specific to the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and cultural, religious, and ethnic minorities.

"Reading about people and experiences and lifestyles and cultures that are different than your own just helps cultivate empathy and respect and compassion and understanding,” said Ackerman.

Ackerman is joining a national movement started by a New York City school counselor.

"In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, I really thought it would be important to use libraries as an outlet and as a vessel to get important stories heard and read by others within the community,” said Sarah Kamya.

Kamya started what she calls the 'Little Free Diverse Libraries Project.’

She's collected thousands of books and shipped them to people in all 50 states wanting to start little diverse libraries of their own.

"Once you put a book in, you don’t know where it goes so I just imagine the little Black or brown child picking up a book and seeing themselves represented or the white parent who is educating themselves, learning more about cultures and learning more how to walk alongside others and people that don’t look like them,” said Kamya.

Ackerman plans to launch her library in the middle of the month but she needs some help, so she’s started a Go Fund Me page.

"Normally little free libraries are stocked by people in the community and just whatever book they’re done with, but because we have a specific topic, we’d like to make sure that we always have books on hand that are relevant,” said Ackerman.

Ackerman says this is an opportunity to amplify all Black people through the pages of these books.

“It's really important that everyone see themselves reflected and celebrated in literature,” she said.

This story was first reported by Amanda VanAllen at WEWS in Cleveland, Ohio.