Bookworms rejoice! The Iris Malcolm Library, York Region’s first and only Afro-centric library is now open at the Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association (NACCA) Community Centre at 449 Eagle Street.
Photos by Amy Brathwaite, @amybrathwaite
Named in memory of NACCA chair Jerisha Grant-Hall’s late mother, Iris Malcolm, and her legacy dismantling anti-Black racism, the library is a growing resource for people looking to discover great reads from a variety of Black authors.
Stop by to peruse the diverse catalog of Black-affirming and Afrocentric books, take part in their volunteer reading buddies program, or enjoy some quiet time with your kids in the special reading corner!
Aside from the fantastic programs and catalog, the significance of the space goes beyond just books.
“Growing up in Newmarket, the books in the local libraries and at my former schools did not reflect me or people who look like me,” explains librarian Eden Marshall. “It’s exciting and healing to be surrounded by literature that young Black girls and boys can see themselves and their experiences in.”
The library’s curated collection of children’s books offers kids a chance to see people who look like them in writing and illustration. Books include Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Goodnight Racism by Ibram X. Kendi, Africaville by Shantay Grant, and The Proudest Blue by Ibtihah Muhammad
“It is important to share the stories of African and Black history and also the culture so that our community members are represented and see themselves reflected in books,” says Eden. “It also helps to build relationships with the non-Black community.”
Wondering what book to put your nose in next? A few of Eden’s recommended reads include:
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling by Esi Edugyan.
The library and all resources are free to NACCA members or can be checked out for a minimal cost of $2 for non-members.
Stay up-to-date on the library’s latest recommended reads @irismalcolmlibrary on Instagram or head to www.naccacommunity.ca/iris-malcolm-library.html to plan your visit.