October is a busy month for bookish folks (especially if they also love Halloween 🎃)! To start the month off is Banned Books Week, which takes place October 1-7: This year's theme is "Let Freedom Read!"
The Nonbinarian Book Bike exists in part because of the dangerous rise in book censorship, especially of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC titles. Our mission is to distribute free LGBTQIA+ books for all ages throughout Brooklyn, especially as librarians, library workers, schools, educators, and advocates are silenced by a vocal minority hellbent on placing as many access barriers as possible between these books and the people who need them most.
According to the American Library Association, 2022 was a record year for book bans in the U.S., with more than 1,200 challenges compiled by the organization. This nearly doubled the then-record challenges recorded in 2021. As of August 1, 2023, this year is on track to once again beat the record of most books challenged in a single year since the ALA began tracking this data more than two decades ago.
You've likely seen The Nonbinarian Book Bike talk about banned books before, especially on social media. We'll be highlighting even more titles and authors this week, in solidarity with Banned Books Week and everyone who's either been censored by or had their access removed to banned books. We are also partnering with Trans formative Schools for the Read Queer Banned Books Book Drive to build their library for their afterschool programming for ages 9-15 (more details below).
If you'd like to join in this year's effort, check out the toolkit provided by Banned Books Week and seek out local events and days of action (or plan your own)!
Happy 1st Birthday to The Nonbinarian Book Bike! Founder K. Kerimian launched the effort for a queer- and trans-led, mobile mutual aid initiative designed to distribute free LGBTQIA+ books throughout Brooklyn in October 2022.
To celebrate, we're hosting a Birthday Book Swap at our HvK Park Pop-Up on Sunday, October 15! We're partnering with our friend Literary Thicction for this event as an extension of our summer Riis Reads series. Follow us on Instagram for details as the event gets closer!
And as we look back on one year of the Book Bike, don't miss book club coordinator and newsletter editor Samantha Puc's article at The Mary Sue!
Want to catch up with the Book Bike in October? Here's where we'll be:
🚲 Parkside Ave. Pop-Up: Saturday, October 7 from 12 p.m.—2 p.m., Prospect & Ocean (Prospect Lefferts)
🚲 Brower Park Pop-Up: Sunday, October 8 from 12 p.m.—2 p.m., Kingston & Prospect Pl (Crown Heights)
🚲 Parkside Ave. Pop-Up: Saturday, October 14 from 12 p.m.—2 p.m., Prospect & Ocean (Prospect Lefferts)
🚲 HvK Park Pop-Up: Sunday, October 15 from 12 p.m.—2 p.m., Tompkins & Greene (Bed-Stuy)
We hope to continue book distribution during the bike's "off-season" by partnering for indoor school fairs and holiday markets. Stay tuned!
It's officially October and we're breaking out the horror! 👻 This month's book club pick is the queer horror anthology It Came from the Closet, edited by Joe Vallese.
We've partnered with publisher Feminist Press to give away two (2) copies to our community. Check out our Instagram for details on how to enter.
The Nonbinarian Book Club is partnered with Bluestockings Cooperative, a worker-owner-run activist center, bookstore, and community space that offers mutual aid, harm reduction support, resource research, and a temperature-regulated safe place. People of all genders, cultures, sexualities, and identities are welcome at Bluestockings Cooperative, which is located at 116 Suffolk St, New York, New York, on the Lower East Side.
You can purchase this month's Nonbinarian Book Club book at Bluestockings to support their mission and ours! Click here to order online and make sure to mention the book club in your order comments!
It’s an interesting time for me to be writing about the future of libraries. I work at a large urban public library system. This month, our city’s Office of Risk Management hired new staff who are demanding every community partner we work with to produce (oftentimes multiple) certificates of liability insurance as a prerequisite to any collaboration with the library.
To bring questions of insurance—which I recognize as the professionalized and class-coded sale of the narrative of diminished capital risk—into what is supposed to be a public space feels especially egregious. Who can afford personal liability insurance? Not the casual group of educators who teach basic literacy to Spanish-speaking patrons every Sunday in their free time. Not the mutual aid collective of sex workers with whom I was working to plan a special storytime of How Mamas Love Their Babies.
As a librarian lucky enough to clock in with colleagues whose collective philosophy of programming stems from strong relationships with local artists, educators, and mutual aid groups (read: neighbors), this policy change has basically ground our branch and our community life to a halt. If the public library won’t support you, who will?
The future of libraries is not owned by the government. The public library as it exists today is not the critically immune gold standard for community care as it is often celebrated in popular discourse. There’s a marketable slogan famously emblazoned upon t-shirts and tote bags: “What’s more punk than the public library?”
Public libraries are one of the only places in the U.S. where you can access information and materials for free and are not obligated to spend money to use WiFi or the bathroom or sit in a chair for hours and hours. But let’s not pretend they are the most “punk” initiative out there because that’s a quick ceiling to our collective imagination that feels as professionalized as the goddamn insurance requirement.
So, what is more punk than the public library? (If the public library won’t support you, who will?) The Nonbinarian Book Bike, for one. Imagine if each major city had a mutual aid book bike pedaling around from park to park and slinging the text-based representation that’s most actively oppressed in each of their respective communities, connecting folks and organizations along the way.
There’s also the Noname Book Club, intentionally built in the memory of community-driven Black bookstores (including that of Noname’s mother) that were so often the target of state-based repression during COINTELPRO. Notable about the Noname Book Club is the targeted inclusion of our most marginalized comrades through their robust Prison Program, which brings up the larger project of building carceral libraries, which is the focus of Reginald Dwayne Betts and Freedom Reads. And have you heard of the Biblioburro that brings books to the Colombian backcountry on a donkey?
You’ll notice something these projects have in common is the question of how to get the most needed books to people with the least access. How to center our work on our most vulnerable neighbors. And this echoes in the background of the question I always arrive at when banging my head into the wall about libraries: What is public space? Who is it for?
For me, public space is somewhere you won’t get thrown out if you fall asleep. The cops aren’t there. You aren’t required to show papers or ID in order to borrow a book. The collection reflects the community served and features positive and own-voice representation of its most vulnerable members. The water is clean. The computers work. You don’t need a prohibitively expensive and white Master’s Degree to be taken seriously. There’s an active commitment to collective liberation as opposed to “neutrality.” A social worker is there all the time and whoa! Their labor is appropriately valued. Narcan and test strips and clean needles. Community garden. Free breakfast before school. Have you read (The Nonbinarian Book Club's September pick) Your Driver Is Waiting? Doo Wop.
Until then, we take care of us. Keep pedaling.
The writer requested to remain anonymous but is willing to connect with readers interested in these issues and projects. Please DM us on Instagram or email email@example.com for more information.
The Nonbinarian Book Bike is partnering with Trans formative Schools, "a progressive education community centering trans joy and social justice." The organization aims to uplift trans children and educators, as well as families "touched by transness," through the implementation of a free afterschool program for ages 9-15. Trans formative Schools' dream is to create a liberal middle school that employs rigorous academics, identity exploration, and more.
As part of The Nonbinarian Book Bike's Banned Books Week programming, we are holding a Read Queer Banned Books Book Drive in collaboration with Trans formative Schools to build their library for their afterschool program.
All books purchased from this Bookshop wishlist will go directly to Trans formative Schools. The Nonbinarian Book Bike receives a portion of each purchase, which helps us pay for storage, bike maintenance and upkeep, and more. By participating in the Read Queer Banned Books Book Drive, you directly support two trans-leg organizations and support indie bookstores through Bookshop.
For more, follow Trans formative Schools on Instagram.
The Nonbinarian Book Bike is partnered with the following independent bookstores! Books purchased from our wishlists will be donated directly to the bike for free distribution.
The Nonbinarian Book Bike is also proud to partner with the following organizations for our monthly community reading events! Please check out their mission statements and support them however possible.
If you'd like to partner with us for an event or for long-term association, please reach out via e-mail! In addition to subscribing to our newsletter, following us on social media, and participating in events, you can also support the Book Bike in the following ways:
📚 Donate a book (or books) to the Book Bike!
📚 Buy a book from our wishlist!
📚 Buy a book through our Bookshop storefront!
📚 Support us with a Libro.fm subscription!
📚 Buy Nonbinarian merch!
If you have something you'd like to submit to the newsletter including events, mutual aid needs, book recs, or ideas you'd like to see us include, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for supporting the Nonbinarian Book Bike! Look for our next newsletter on the 1st of the month. In the meantime, follow us on social media for daily updates.