celebrate-women’s-history-month-with-new-additions-to-our-little-free(dom)-libraries

Celebrate Women’s History Month With New Additions To Our Little Free(Dom) Libraries

Article published on March 1, 2024

We’ve added new books and a new Little Free(dom) Library location for Women’s History Month…

Exciting news! Due to the success of our Little Free(dom) Library initiative, Visit Philadelphia is extending the campaign — which makes banned books available to residents and visitors for free —  by incorporating banned books by women authors in honor of Women’s History Month.

Initially launched in February 2024 to highlight banned books by Black authors during Black History Month, the Little Free(dom) Library project is part of Visit Philadelphia’s In Pursuit of A More Perfect Union series, showcasing Philadelphia as the nation’s premier welcoming and inclusive destination.

The Little Free(dom) Library project is presented in partnership with Little Free Library and the Free Library of Philadelphia, which provides resources on their site to help protect everyone’s right to read.

Through the Little Free(dom) Library initiative, residents and visitors can pick up a free banned book at one of 14 locations throughout the city. Among them: the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Betsy Ross House, Franklin Square, Eastern State Penitentiary, the Johnson House Historic Site and — newly added — Queen & Rook Game Cafe.

The initiative launched with a dozen titles and 1,500 books in total. New for Women’s History Month, the selections now include two more books written by women authors (in bold):

  • The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • Front Desk by Kelly Yang
  • Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  • Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

Don’t just grab a book and go, though! Before or after visiting a Little Free(dom) Library, stop into nearby Black-owned and woman-owned businesses to browse, shop or grab a bite to eat. We’ve listed a few Black-owned and women-owned businesses within a short walk or drive of each location.

Note: Locations in this piece are arranged alphabetically.

— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

Did Betsy Ross make the first American flag or not? Ask her yourself when you visit the iconic home of America’s most famous seamstress. Chat with Betsy to hear about the history of the flag and her interaction with George Washington as you explore the tiny rooms and tight staircases of her 1740s abode.

How to find the library 

The library is located near the admissions desk. Enter through the gift shop.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • Fork: At the center of James Beard Award-winning restaurateur Ellen Yin’s culinary empire, Fork has been an Old City mainstay for more than 25 years — and for good reason. The crowd-pleasing menu features fresh ingredients, delectable small plates and hearty main dishes (306 Market Street, a five-minute walk).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • Moore Vintage Archive: Fresh on the Fabric Row scene, Moore Vintage Archive is the place where you can find vintage Chanel, Gucci, Hermes and more women’s designer fashion. Owner Keesean Moore stocks the shop with timeless dresses, jackets, sets and books from Black authors  (725 S. 4th Street, a seven-minute drive).

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

This community-focused outpost of the national nonprofit organization is located along North Broad Street amid the sprawling urban campus of Temple University. In addition to fitness facilities and gymnasiums, the location is home to several youth development programs for local kids and teens.

How to find the library

The library is located in the entrance lobby.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • Cicala at the Divine Lorraine: Co-owner and pastry chef Angela Cicala created this elegant Italian restaurant with her chef-husband Joe. Inside the renovated Divine Lorraine building, Cicala bakes a heavenly assortment of traditional cookies and pastries from recipes inherited from her mother and grandmother (699 N. Broad Street, a 13-minute walk).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • New Barber’s Hall: It’s a Cecil B. Moore institution. In a 19th-century cycling clubhouse and 20th-century music hotspot where John Coltrane, Grover Washington, Jr. and The Temptations performed, this bar and event space owned by Jake Adams serves lunch, dinner and drinks. Don’t forget to warm up those pipes for karaoke on Wednesdays and Fridays (1402 W. Oxford Street, a four-minute walk).

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

Once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, the massive Eastern State Penitentiary operated from 1829 to 1970 and introduced Americans to the concept of prison as a reform (penitentiary for “penance”) tool. Today, the site — which once housed notorious criminals like Al Capone and Willie Sutton — offers self-guided tours that explore the attraction’s history, along with modern social justice issues that surround incarceration.

How to find the library

The library is located at the entrance to the penitentiary.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • Safi Skinsentials: Safi Brown, whose name means “pure and sincere friend” in Arabic, knows what it’s like to struggle with acne. At her facial studio, the licensed skin therapist provides customizable solutions for clients specializing in facials, LED therapy, microdermabrasion, chemical peels and dermaplaning (1517 W. Girard Avenue, a five-minute drive).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • Coffee Cream & Dreams: Travelers and locals love this charming spot, where every customer feels right at home with simple pleasures like fresh zucchini bread, chocolate croissants, caffeinated concoctions and sandwiches like the turkey sausage, egg and cheese on brioche (1436 Fairmount Avenue, a 13-minute walk).
  • Retro Rewind Vintage & Thrift: After operating as a mobile boutique, Retro Rewind Vintage & Thrift opened a brick-and-mortar store in Brewerytown. (You can’t miss its neon yellow facade.) Founded by Tia Whitfield, the shop stocks both women’s and men’s fashions, from blazers and dresses to denim and T-shirts (2804 W. Girard Avenue, a five-minute drive).

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

Faheem Alexander has taken the barbering world by storm with his hands of precision. At it for over 25 years now, he’s known for his expertise in styling, hairline correction and beard grooming. Faheem has worked on many celebrity clients, including Tracy Morgan and Philadelphia’s favorite hip-hop group, The Roots.

How to find the library

The library is located just inside the entrance of the barbershop.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • Miss Rachel’s Pantry: At her South Philly storefront, owner-chef Rachel Klein typically offers popular multi-course vegan meals on select evenings, plus private parties for up to 20 guests if you want a sit-down five-course delight or for up to 26 people for grazing, family-style cocktail parties (1938 S. Chadwick Street, a nine-minute walk).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • Kellijane: Kelly Monk’s South Philly home decor shop is designed to feel like a sanctuary, and her rich fabrics and textiles can transform any home to feel the same way. Either make an appointment or stop by if you’re in the neighborhood (1415 S. Broad Street, a six-minute drive).

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

The diverse staff and board members of the Frankford Community Development Corporation work to spur development and economic activity in lower Northeast Philadelphia, with a focus on affordable housing and sustainable uses for public space. Housed inside the historic Daral Building, the organization is celebrating its 30th anniversary with plans to further transform empty and unused buildings and parcels in the district.

How to find the library

The library is located in the building’s vestibule area.  On nice days, it will be set up in the outdoor space at Frankford Pause Park.

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • Dezzy’s Jamaican & American Restaurant: Jamaican delicacies — including jerk chicken, oxtail, and sides like steamed cabbage and macaroni and cheese — are on the menu at this popular spot along Frankford Avenue (4945 Frankford Avenue, a seven-minute walk).      

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

Franklin Square, one of five public squares laid out by William Penn in his original plan for Philadelphia, offers a refreshing, urban green space with a ton of awesome activities within its eight-acre grounds. The park regularly hosts pop ups with The African American Museum in Philadelphia and is home to a Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Bench in the warmer months.

How to find the library

The library is located outside of the ticket sales building, to the right.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • El Merkury at the Market: Expect Central American street food with a modern twist at Sofia Deleon’s El Merkury. What began as pop-up events and catering grew into a brick-and-mortar shop in Rittenhouse Square and this fan-favorite stall in Reading Terminal Market. Owner-chef Deleon is famous for her made-to-order churro sundaes with creamy soft serve and delectable toppings (El Merkury, Reading Terminal Market, 51 N. 12th Street, a 12-minute walk).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • De’Village: Stone and wooden jewelry, artwork, fabric, sculptures and more from Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria are on offer at this Reading Terminal Market stand owned by Watson and Joycelyn Parks. (De’Village, Reading Terminal Market, 51 N. 12th Street, a 12-minute walk).
  • Little Marrakesh Bazaar: Showcasing the goods of owner Chakir Bouchaid’s home country, Little Marrakesh Bazaar is Reading Terminal Market’s destination for Moroccan handcrafted gifts. In his booth, find intricately designed home goods (like mirrors and spice jars), leather bags and turquoise jewelry (Little Marrakesh Bazaar, Reading Terminal Market, 51 N. 12th Street, a 12-minute walk).

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

Historic Germantown is a partnership of 18 historic homes, museums and destinations in Northwest Philadelphia, including the Johnson House Historic Site (see more below), Cliveden and the Lest We Forget Slavery Museum. The organization is housed inside the beautiful, red-brick Germantown Historical Society building, which is also home to a museum and library dedicated to the neighborhood’s rich history.

How to find the library

The library is located just outside of the front entrance during business hours.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • 3rd Element Spa: Proving sisters make the best small business partners, owners Tomika Branch and Chyvonne Shackelford established their full-service day spa in West Oak Lane. Popular here: hydrating facials, gel manicures, detox pedicures, plus waxing, lash and brow enhancements, massages and self-care products, including 3rd Element candles and body cleansers (7175 Ogontz Avenue, a 12-minute drive).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books: Owner Marc Lamont Hill’s Germantown hangout exudes community pride in its book selection and living-room vibe, a la Washington DC’s acclaimed Busboys and Poets chain. This bibliophile’s spot takes its name from the columnist and Temple University prof’s favorite uncle, who nurtured his love of reading (5445 Germantown Avenue, a one-minute walk).
  • Ubuntu Fine Art Gallery: This fine art photo gallery showcases the work of its founder and owner Steven CW Taylor. Displayed prints of Taylor’s work immerses visitors and encourages them to interact with the places and people Taylor has photographed during the course of his travels. Each print comes with care instructions and a certificate of authenticity (5423 Germantown Avenue, an 18-minute walk).

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

The official visitor center of Independence National Historical Park serves as a one-stop shop for maps, brochures, tickets and tour information. The center — also home to a welcome film, a digital interactive wall and stunning views of Independence Mall — is a stone’s throw away from some of the most popular attractions in Philly, including The President’s House, The African American Museum in Philadelphia and the National Constitution Center.

How to find the library

The library is located next to the visitor information desk.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • Talula’s Garden: Known for gracious hospitality and killer cheese plates, Aimee Olexy is a farm-to-table trailblazer, opening Talula’s Table in Kennett Square in 2007 before expanding with business partner Stephen Starr to open the dreamy Talula’s Garden in Washington Square (210 W. Washington Square).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • Philadelphia Diamond Company: Custom engagement and wedding rings, one-of-a-kind pieces and gemologist-certified appraisals are the reason clients call ahead to book appointments at this Old City jewelry shop, owned by Ken and Nicole Black (421 Chestnut Street, a five-minute walk).
  • Amina: One of the newest restaurants in Philadelphia’s historic Old City neighborhood, Amina brings a healthy dose of Southern food — complete with a dash of Nigerian influence — to the city’s restaurant scene (104 Chestnut Street, a 12-minute walk).

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

A crucial part of the Colonial Germantown Historic District, this site attained a National Historic Landmark designation for its role in the Underground Railroad. Tours offer visitors an opportunity to learn about the injustices of slavery and the 19th-century resident Johnson family, who participated in the Underground Railroad and risked their lives offering refuge to freedom seekers. Among the freedom fighters who stayed here: William Still and, according to family lore, Harriet Tubman.

How to find the library

The library is located just inside the front entrance, to the right.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • All the Way Live Cafe: On the menu at this raw food/vegan cafe run by a mother/daughter duo: nut burgers, quinoa salads, chickpea chili and more (6108 Germantown Avenue, a four-minute walk).
  • Dolly’s Boutique & Consignment: The stylish set loves that this shop — owned by Shani Newton — carries women’s clothing for all sizes (small through triple extra-large), ages and budgets. On the racks: pant sets, stylish separates, maxi dresses and on-point accessories (6778 Germantown Avenue, a four-minute drive).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • The Movement Philly: Founded by friends (and former business competitors) Aaron Johnson and Bruce Tabbs, The Movement Philly specializes in handmade clothing, T-shirts, tie-dye, jewelry and vegan bath and beauty products. The Mt. Airy shop was featured in a “Buying Black” segment on Philly’s Fox 29 TV station in 2020 (7133 Germantown Avenue, a five-minute drive). 

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

The brightest light on the Avenue of the Arts is the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, a dazzling regional performing arts center whose discreet brick exterior rises to a bold 150-foot glass vaulted rooftop for startling views of the city — one of the many venues that make up Ensemble Arts. Resident companies include the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, PHILADANCO, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia Ballet and the Curtis Institute of Music.

How to find the library

The library is located in Commonwealth Plaza inside the lobby of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • Vedge: Pioneering plant-based cuisine before plant-based cuisine was cool, chef Kate Jacoby opened Vedge alongside her husband, chef Rich Landau, in 2011. The Philly native is a James Beard Award semifinalist (2014-2016) for Outstanding Pastry Chef and churns out palate-zinging fare, homemade ice creams and can’t-miss pies (1221 Locust Street, a six-minute walk).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • Good Karma Cafe: This Center City favorite has kept owner Shawn Nesbit busy since opening in 2008. The brand serves up fair trade and certified organic coffee made with rich flavors, as well as small bites and sandwiches (265 N. Broad Street, a one-minute walk).
  • Common Ground: This Midtown Village consigner owned by Phillip Moore offers exclusive collectible sneakers and vintage pieces — Adidas x Bad Bunny, retro Air Jordans — and features rare, sold-out merch from prominent sportswear brands like Supreme and Bape (134 S. 11th Street, a 12-minute walk).

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, founded by Bishop Richard Allen in 1794, sits on the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African Americans, and is the mother church of the nation’s first Black denomination. Today, Mother Bethel is a church (where the congregation worships weekly), museum and archive. The museum houses the tomb of Bishop Richard Allen and artifacts dating to the 1600s, tracing the history of the AME Church. Reservations are required for museum tours.

How to find the library

The library is located inside the church’s lecture hall. The Little Free(dom) Library at Mother Bethel AME Church is only available Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • Le Caveau: After Chloe Grigri and her dad Bernard opened French brasserie The Good King Tavern, she upped the neighborhood cool factor with the debut of Le Caveau in 2019, wasting no time becoming a James Beard Award favorite, earning a semifinalist nod for Outstanding Wine Program in 2019, and a 2023 semifinalist nomination in the Outstanding Bar category (614 S. 7th Street, a five-minute walk).
  • Yowie: What first began as a home and lifestyle shop in 2016 has now blossomed into a boutique hotel, shop and design studio, founded by Shannon Maldonado. The Queen Village cafe and storefront, is stocked with design-forward home goods, jewelry, books and apparel. The hotel is an extension of the shop, with Maldonado’s keen eye for style and design carried through each of the 15 suites (226 South Street, a 10-minute walk).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • South Street Art Mart: What began as a holiday pop-up shop turned into a permanent fixture on South Street. South Street Art Mart, curated by co-owners Nicole Krecicki and Nicole Wiegand, carries works of art, jewelry, zines, pins and so much more from over 180 Philly-area artists and makers (530 S. 4th Street, a six-minute walk).

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

One of the nation’s largest art institutions, the Philadelphia Museum of Art rises majestically at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Inside are vast galleries, highlighting Renaissance, American and impressionist art, plus rotating special exhibitions.

How to find the library

The library is located at the west entrance of the museum. Inquire at the admission desk for more information.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • Jezabel’s Argentine Cafe & Bakery: Multitalented chef-owner Jezabel Careaga makes stellar empanadas, alfajores and other Argentine specialties at her West Philly cafe and bakery (206 S. 45th Street, a 13-minute drive).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • Arterial Coffee: Sharaine and Sharla Brown’s introduction to coffee came in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, where the sisters would help their grandmother pick coffee cherries. Fast forward to 2021, when the Browns opened this cozy establishment specializing in locally sourced coffees, teas and small bites (3100 Spring Garden Street, a 14-minute walk).
  • Butter’s Soul Food To Go: This charming Brewerytown soul food eatery got its name because its food is so good, it melts in your mouth. Fried wings and sides sell out fast, and home-baked cakes and pies come straight from the oven of owner Kevin Bell’s mother (2730 W. Girard Avenue, a five-minute drive).

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Queen & Rook — Photo by Neal Santos for Visit Philadelphia

Roll the dice at Queen & Rook Game Cafe, the Queen Village board game cafe run by Jeannie Wong and Edward Garcia. The super-fun spot’s game selection runs the gamut from classics to indie games made by locals. Also available: puzzles, collectible game cards and more. Pro tip: While you’re there, sample the plant-based cafe menu, which includes fried cauliflower and Beyond meat burgers.

How to find the library

The library is located just inside the entrance of the cafe.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • Aurora Grace Chocolates: At Aurora Wold’s corner confectionery in Queen Village, you’ll find her beautiful hand-painted chocolates alongside French macarons and freshly baked pastries (517 S. 5th Street, an eight-minute walk).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • Atomic City Comics: Owned by Michael Yates and Darryl Jones, this classic comic book store, known for its wide selection of comics, graphic novels, manga, back issues, horror, sci-fi and old-school arcade games such as Street Fighter, has been a South Street mainstay since 2001 (638 South Street, a five-minute walk).

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— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

Once home to the legendary punk-rock store Zipperhead, this spot on South Street now houses the offices for the South Street Headhouse District. Its facade — covered in enormous ant sculptures and a giant faux zipper — makes the building hard to miss. Pop inside to learn about South Street businesses new and old and check out rotating exhibitions that explore the history of the eclectic neighborhood.

How to find the library

The library is located just inside the mosaic-ed entryway, to the left.

Women-owned businesses nearby

  • Eyes Gallery: Founded by artists Isaiah and Julia Zagar in 1968, the Eyes Gallery specializes in Latin American crafts, folk art, textiles and exotic jewelry from Mexico, Peru, Haiti and elsewhere in South America and the Caribbean (327 South Street, a one-minute walk).
  • Bridget Foy’s: Serving Philadelphia since 1978, this South Street favorite is now run by its namesake. Bridget Foy took over for parents John and Bernadette in 2021. The spot serves a menu of classic bar favorites (think: wings, burgers and shareable snacks) and healthy options like roasted Atlantic salmon and a veggie-loaded grain bowl (200 South Street, a five-minute walk).

Black-owned businesses nearby

  • Black and Nobel: More than a bookstore, this cultural center owned by Hakim Hopkins offers DVDs and an array of health and wellness products in a creative atmosphere. The shop also ships to prisons, offering incarcerated folks reading materials (422 South Street, a two-minute walk).

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Social Media Video Series

The Little Free(dom) Library initiative also includes a four-part social media video series with notable Philadelphians like Marc Lamont Hill, Dr. Christina Afia Harris and Solomon Jones reading passages from banned books. Videos will be released once a week beginning on February 8, 2024.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi

All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by Geroge M. Johnson

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones

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Locations

Video Series

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