The Brooklyn Public Library system decided to turn a large portion of the library’s central branch at Grand Army Plaza into a shrine to a rapper. I briefly planned to write a full article on why the decision of our public library system to turn over operations to a rapper’s promotional agency was questionable, but I could not bring myself to tackle the obvious. However, wasteful endeavors present many layers of stupidity, and one is too tempting to let pass without comment: Limited edition Jay-Z library cards! All quotes will be from this New York Times report:
Linda E. Johnson, the Brooklyn Public Library’s chief executive, said she had proposed a limited-edition card early in the library’s conversations with Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment company, which created the exhibition.
I am glad to see that exhibitions at the Brooklyn Public Library are being created and managed by entertainment promoters.
Roc Nation came back with the suggestion that they make 13 cards instead.
How are we defining suggestion here? Did the Library’s agreement with Roc Nation even permit it to decline suggestions?
The library decided to allow patrons to collect one of each style, but to rotate different card designs through many of the library’s branches to encourage fans to visit several locations.
People can collect multiple library cards. I am sure you can start to imagine the potential issues here. Do not worry. We will get there.
That plan appears to have worked, with some Brooklyn residents rushing out to collect the set of cards ‘like Pokémon,’ as one social media user described it. Olayinka Martins, 26, a writer living in Brooklyn, spent three days visiting nine different branches in order to collect all 13.
Mr. Martins presumably has library cards now.
The cards have caught the attention of Jay-Z fans outside the state, who cannot register for them because they lack New York addresses. Online, some are begging New Yorkers to mail them the cards. Complete sets are listed on eBay for upward of $1,000.
I, for one, am shocked. Aside, may I remind people that Brooklyn Public Library cards serve an actual purpose for residents of Brooklyn?
Mr. Martins did not collect the cards planning to sell them, but he said he had been tempted by offers of more than $700.
I am sure the idea of selling them had never ever occurred to him. No one could have foreseen any of this.
Ms. Johnson said the library had not been surprised to learn that people were trying to resell the cards. ‘We wish they weren’t doing it,’ she said, ‘but it’s a small enough number that we’re not so worried right now.’
What is “small enough”? Do not tell me. I have a hunch that the answer is whatever Roc Nation decides. I could not help but think of the TikTok CEO’s congressional testimony when I read this quote.
The Jay-Z card she picked up a few days later is the first physical library card she has owned. ‘Seeing a rapper be on something as mainstream and as massive as a library card, it’s just phenomenal,’ she said.
She can get 12 additional library cards right now if she is so inclined. I decided to focus on that instead of noting that the idea that rappers are not mainstream in 2023 is laughable.
We can only hope that the Brooklyn Public Library returns to normal and its taxpayer-funded mission in the somewhat near future.