Librarian Starts First-Ever Literature Box Celebrating Black Authors

Subscription boxes have quickly become popular tools for creating a convenient way of fulfilling basic needs while also introducing people to new items, ideas and concepts. Everything from food to cosmetics to home decor can now be purchased via subscription services which offer monthly or bi-monthly boxes or “crates” that feature a variety of different items based on each individual service. Literature has also hopped on this trend, providing avid readers with easy access to new titles and authors in a variety of different genres. OwlCrate, for example, is a subscription box that sends a new Young Adult novel out along with other YA bookish treats each month. Likewise, the Book(ish) Box  sends out monthly literary-inspired goodies while Book Riot’s Quarterly Box sends three books out, including one brand new release annotated by the featured author, each quarter to its subscribers.

These monthly subscription offers aren’t just a convenient way to connect readers with new authors, they can also be used to make a difference and raise awareness. And one woman is setting out to do just that with her new service, Call Number.

Jamilah Gabriel, a librarian at Purdue University’s Black Cultural Center Library, is planning on launching her very own monthly literature subscription box, which will feature work exclusively from black authors. Gabriel was inspired to create this service after discovering that a similar subscription box exists for children, but not for adults. Call Number seeks to not only promote Black literature and lesser-known black authors, but to also make people aware of the diversity issue that is plaguing the publishing industry. There are not many writers of color, and those that are do not get nearly as much press or acclaim as white authors.

As a librarian, Gabriel is familiar with recommending books to members of her community. Call Number utilizes her library skills to provide Black literature to subscribers, including a curated collection of items that reflect the themes of each month’s selected book, such as charms, bookmarks and journals, as well goods that showcase the different aspects of working in a library.

“I also wanted to create some awareness about how you organize literature in libraries,” Gabriel said. The design of the box also has the code “PN841″listed on the lid, which is the library call number for black literature.

Source: Call Number

Source: Cratejoy

After several months of collecting emails and gauging interest in the project, Gabriel raised funds for Call Number through the Purdue Foundry, which helps students and faculty launch start-ups, and an IndieGoGo campaign. The project has been met with a warm reception from readers throughout the country.

The Call Number subscription box costs only $35 per month and will launch later this month. Anyone interested in signing up for the service can do so by providing their email addresses through the Call Number website. Follow Call Number on Twitter to keep up with news and updates about the service.

And for those who aren’t yet keen on subscription box services but wish to keep up with contemporary Black literature and authors, blogs like Well-Read Black Girl and Read Diverse Books are wonderful places to start. Of course, as Jamilah Gabriel herself would likely also suggest, your local library is also an excellent resource.

YouTube Channel: Jamilah Gabriel


Featured image via Cratejoy

h/t Lafayette Journal and Courier