Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) today launched Whispering Libraries, a curated, audio experience taking place outdoors at 10 library branches and across Brooklyn. Designed to share art and culture throughout the streets of Brooklyn, Whispering Libraries invites the public to listen to curated playlists of music, poetry, oral histories, podcast excerpts, spoken literature, and more, streamed through hidden speakers starting as early as 7:30 a.m. and playing up to five times a day on weekdays and select Saturdays.
Selections range from the opening lines of “Journal of A Plague Year”; excerpts of speeches by the late congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis; passages from the writings of award-winning author Edwidge Danticat; classical music from BPL Creatives-in-Residence ETHEL Quartet; and highlights from BPL’s Borrowed podcast and historical audio from the Library’s archives. Additional voices include Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang; U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo; poet Saeed Jones, shortlist nominee for the 2020 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize; writers Naomi Klein and Fran Lebowitz; novelist and poet N. Scott Momaday; the late poet and bookseller Lawrence Ferlinghetti; and writer and sociologist Dr. Ruha Benjamin, winner of the 2020 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize.
Each of the 10 branches participating in the Whispering Libraries experience will have customized playlists, reflecting, in part, the neighborhood they serve. Selections range from the opening lines of “Journal of A Plague Year”; excerpts of speeches by the late congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis; passages from the writings of award-winning author Edwidge Danticat; classical music from BPL Creatives-in-Residence ETHEL Quartet; and prescient words from writers Naomi Klein and Fran Lebowitz; novelist and poet N. Scott Momaday; and writer and sociologist Dr. Ruha Benjamin, winner of the 2020 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize.
“A library is more than just a building, it is the repository of our accumulated knowledge and memory. Imagine walking by one of our branches before the building opens for service and you hear a poem or a segment of a historical speech—we hope that a whispering library will make you smile and inspire you,” said László Jakab Orsós, Vice President of Arts and Culture. ” As we engage the public safely outside, look for BPL cyclists carrying small speakers, myself included, riding throughout the borough, amplifying the Whispering Libraries experience for everyone.”
The 10 Library branches participating in Whispering Libraries include Bay Ridge, Brownsville, Bushwick, Clarendon, Flatbush, Kensington, Kings Highway, New Utrecht, Park Slope, and Sheepshead Bay. A special edition is also planned at BPL’s Center for Brooklyn History, with more details available in the coming weeks.
BPL will offer additional opportunities outside including outdoor reading rooms at 22 branches; free outdoor Wi-Fi and laptop loans; the “Outdoor Living Room,” part seating area and part art installation created by Brooklyn-based artist Heinrich Spillmann at BPL’s Central Library; and a host of outdoor programs including the upcoming StoryWalk—pages of a book or verses of a song placed every few feet around the perimeter of the library so as families stroll around outside they can read or sing together.
In addition, volunteer cyclists partnering with BPL will bike throughout the borough broadcasting the playlists and periodically stopping at high foot-traffic locations, offering passers-by instructions on how to access the full playlists.
Whispering Libraries will be available outdoors beginning April 1st.
Did you know that there are 17 Carnegie Libraries in Brooklyn?