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NYC Libraries Celebrate Hip-Hop with New Library Cards

NYPL hip-hop library card

New York Public Library (NYPL) and Queens Public Library (QPL) are recognizing the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with a slew of programs and events, and we're particularly excited about their limited-edition library cards that celebrate the genre and New York City’s role in making it a global cultural movement.

NYPL’s card features an image of the iconic mural created by artists Zephyr, Revolt, and Sharp from the 1983 film, Wild Style. Considered the first hip-hop film, Wild Style is an incredible musical snapshot of hip-hop’s early days and New York City in the 1980s, with appearances by Fab 5 Freddy, the Cold Crush Brothers, Lady Pink, and Grandmaster Flash. NYPL chose the mural for its card because the soundtrack’s original cassette is part of the library’s hip-hop research collection at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, along with key archives related to the birth and legacy of hip-hop. The mural adorns the front of the library card, while the back of the card depicts the original soundtrack cassette.

The new, limited-edition hip-hop library card available at Queens Public Library.

The QPL card features art by legendary streetwear trailblazers, the Shirt Kings. Starting in 1986 from a booth at the Colosseum Mall in Jamaica, Queens, their graffiti-inspired clothing designs drew some of the biggest names in hip-hop, graced album covers and music videos, and helped lay the foundation for hip-hop fashion as a global force. The card reflects the Shirt Kings’ trademark style, while reinforcing the importance of reading, writing, positivity, and fun.

The cards will be available at each system’s respective branches in the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Queens starting July 14.

Want to learn more about the intersection of libraries and hip-hop, as well as the vast hip-hop collection at QPL? Check out the July 2021 episode of the podcast, Call Number with American Libraries, which features an interview with Ralph McDaniels, the hip-hop luminary who created the influential Video Music Box TV show in the early 1980s and who now serves as hip-hop coordinator at QPL. It's a fascinating conversation!

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