Camden’s ‘Hoodbrarian’ Brings Love of Books to CommunityBreaking News
tags: books, New Jersey, urban history, public libraries, Camden
Danielle Jackson credits her grandmother for helping to instill a love of reading in her.
“It’s something that my grandmother kind of gifted to the family,” said Jackson.
“My grandmother has a Black history collection. They are hard copy books, but it’s everyone from Maya Angelou to … Eartha Kitt to Lena Horne. It is everybody that you could think of in this collection that I’ve been looking at since I was a little girl.”
Her grandmother’s collection is now among the hundreds of books the lifelong Camden resident shares with her community as “The Hoodbrarian.”
With her name inspired by Los Angeles-based spiritual entrepreneur Imani Cohen — “The Hood Healer” — Jackson began her mission of bringing literacy and resources about two years ago after noticing Camden didn’t have as many libraries as the city once had.
“I looked up one day and all of the libraries were closed. We went from having about 10 to having two,” she said.
The city of more than 70,000 residents once managed an extensive public library system. But a budget crisis in the early 2010s prompted city officials to shut the system down and hand over the two remaining branches to Camden County to run; Ferry Avenue and one downtown that has since moved to the campus of Rutgers University-Camden.
Almost a decade later, the impact of the closures is still felt by longtime residents.
“In the circles that I travel, which are basically a group of active citizens, they all felt as though this is just one more part of the dismantling of Camden,” said community activist Keith Benson, who says the libraries were a great contribution to life in Camden.