The celebration of the life and lasting contributions of Jay-Z is the cause of a new surge at the Brooklyn Public Library.
Brought to life by Roc Nation, “The Book of HOV” installation features “never-before-seen images, art, and ephemera from the artist’s archives, providing a unique glimpse into his life and career,” according to the library’s website.
This exhibit was a surprise to Jay-Z and coincided with the celebration of 50 years of Hip-Hop music, per The New York Times. Revealed to him during a private event at the library with friends, family, and business associates, the extensive installation even includes a full-scale recreation from Baseline Recording Studios, the place where Jay-Z made many well-known creations.
“I know he wouldn’t let us do this,” said Desiree Perez, the chief executive of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, according to The New York Times. “This could never happen if he was involved.”
Wishing to share his story and provide inspiration to others in an accessible way, she added, “Jay belongs to the people. It’s a place that feels comfortable. It’s not intimidating. A lot of people go to the museum, but a lot of people don’t.”
“The Book of HOV” is slated to run until October 2023 and has already drawn more than 39,000 people in its first week, per ABC7 New York.
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What’s more, the exhibit has led to an increase in the library’s membership, with 14,000 new library accounts created, per CNN.
“The community’s enthusiastic response to this exhibition is a testament to Jay-Z’s immense impact,” Linda E. Johnson, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library, explained to CNN.
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Johnson saw a great opportunity to engage visitors by creating a limited-edition library card, according to The New York Times. This was previously done by the library for author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. Johnson then presented the idea to Roc Nation, who heightened the idea by adding they should create 13 different cards, for each of Jay-Z’s individual albums.
It was decided that visitors would be able to collect various designs of the card by visiting different branches of the library, per the outlet.
One vistor, Olayinka Martins, 26, dedicated three days at the library to acquire the entire selection from nine different branches.
“The library leadership understands that hip-hop and Black culture have been the site of cool, and cool sells,” Martins expressed to The New York Times. “It’s very savvy.”
Johnson shared with the outlet why the limited-edition cards were the right choice to promote the exhibit and the library.
“Swag in the form of T-shirts or mugs, that’s not really what we’re about. The card is your ticket to everything we have.”
Amethyst Collab Founder and Director Olivia Shalhoup, who grabbed her own commemorative card, said, “Seeing a rapper be on something as mainstream and as massive as a library card, it’s just phenomenal.”