Skip to Main Content

The census doesn’t just distribute representatives in congress and billions of dollars in federal funds—it determines city bus routes, how many garbage cans are on your block, and whether a grocery store opens in your neighborhood. Filling out the census is one of the most powerful ways to use your voice.

Want to learn more about the topics in this episode? Check out the following links.


Episode Transcript

Kathleen Daniel So, the census is the count of everyone where they are, technically Census Day, April 1st. So on April 1st, don’t be a fool: Fill in the census, Get counted.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras All the way back in November of 2019, excitement about the 2020 Census was already ramping up for Census Day … at the library at least.

Kathleen Daniel It took a village to get this done and we’re so excited to be kicking off tonight. So let’s hear a round of applause for NYC Census 2020 team! Brooklyn, are ya’ll ready to do this?

Adwoa Adusei That’s Kathleen Daniel. She’s field director for New York City Census 2020, an organization created by the Mayor’s office to ensure a complete count of New York City’s population this time around. 

Krissa Corbett Cavouras The lobby at Central Library was full of Brooklynites who had come out to learn more about the census. And of course, this was before our branches were closed, this was before the outbreak of Covid-19. Some had just wandered in, but other people were interested in getting their communities involved in this great national count that happens every ten years.

Adwoa Adusei But, before that could start, Kathleen wanted to make sure that everyone was on the same page before diving into the importance of the 2020 census.

Kathleen Daniel When we talk about the census, we cannot talk about what is critical in this country without talking about a little of the controversy of our history, so can we go there? Okay. There was a time when people that looked like me were considered three-fifths of one person.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras You may have heard of the three-fifths compromise. Our government decided in 1787 that in order to give distribute seats to each state in the house of representatives, enslaved black people would count for three-fifths of a person, rather than one full person.

Kathleen Daniel So, while the Africans enslaved in America were not empowered, they were counted as three-fifths of a human being so they could power the Southern states to get more representatives in Washington.

Adwoa Adusei It was a dehumanizing policy, and it’s important not to ignore that time in our history, when not every person counted. The three-fifths compromise finally ended with the 14th amendment in 1868, which granted all male citizens the right to vote, regardless of race. 

Krissa Corbett Cavouras But even then, it wasn’t the end of the abuse of the national census. Kathleen talked about during the second world war, when the Census Bureau gave the US Secret Service information that led them to the neighborhoods and homes of Japanese-Americans, which in turn helped the government detain thousands of Japanese-American citizens in camps during the war.

Adwoa Adusei It is scary to think about, but Kathleen’s aim in telling those two stories back in November was to emphasize that the controversial history of the US Census is exactly what makes it secure today.

Kathleen Daniel As a result, your census data: what you give to the census, i.e. your name, where you live, how many people in your household, is now secured. It is bullet-proof. The census can no longer share with any agency—not the president of the United States, not the Supreme Court, not any other agency, not NYC Census 2020, with no one—your information.

Adwoa Adusei After World War Two, a federal law was passed to ensure that any data connected to a person’s name and address be kept private for 72 years thereafter. 

Krissa Corbett Cavouras So let’s acknowledge that over the course of our history, the US Census has been used to marginalize people, and it has been a way to deprive people of their voice. 

Adwoa Adusei But today, it’s changed. It’s one of the most powerful ways that people get to have a voice in this country. So, it’s more important than every to fill it out, Kathleen says: to stand up, knowing your information is protected, and say: “I am here.”

A patron asks a question during Brooklyn Public Library's 2020 census teach-in back in November 2019.
(Gregg Richards, Brooklyn Public Library)

Kathleen Daniel The largest social justice movement is happening right now. This is a matter of your civil rights. Do not let anyone count you out. You have a right to be counted, Brooklyn.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Today: we’re getting counted. You’re listening to Borrowed: Stories that start at the library. I’m Krissa Corbett Cavouras.

Adwoa Adusei And I’m Adwoa Adusei. it’s April 1st: Census Day!

[Music]

Joanne Kelly I grew up on Brooklyn Avenue. I’m all about being Brooklyn, Brooklyn born and bred. I think Brooklyn is the greatest city in the world.

Adwoa Adusei This is Joanne Kelly. A few weeks ago, we met her at Crown Heights Library.

Joanne Kelly So, I live around the corner from this branch. So I'm a mom, I’m a grandmother. And this was our hub. If you didn't want to get on the bus and go all the way to Central Library, this was the after school spot. The library's always been a safe haven growing up … and your parents, Caribbean people, they they have to know where their kids are at all times. And if they don't know who the people are that you're with, you're not going to be able to go. So, if you said you were at the library, that was always like a go. Sometimes you wouldn't be at the library, but, you know, it was a good cover.

Adwoa Adusei Joanne no longer has to use the library as an excuse to her parents, but she was back at the Crown Heights branch because now she’s a census navigator for BPL.

Joanne Kelly It just so happens that at times that the census always timed, like at a break when I was unemployed. It just happens. Like, every ten years I go through a cycle, and it's like here comes to the census to save me. [Laughs]

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Joanne is working on the census for the third time in her life. She’s one of ten new part-time hires at the library. And her job as a Census Navigator is to answer questions from patrons about the 2020 census is and why they should fill it out, to help train library staff on how to talk to patrons about the census, even when she’s not there. We met Joanne in Crown Heights because that’s one of the neighborhoods she’s been assigned to do outreach in.

Adwoa Adusei There’s a lot riding on this census, especially for Brooklyn. In the last national census, which happens every ten years, it’s estimated that about 50,000 residents went uncounted in both Brooklyn and Queens. And, for a county of its size, Kings County, Brooklyn had the lowest rate of return for mailed census forms in 2010 … that’s the lowest rate in the entire country.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And adding to the challenges that Adwoa’s talking about that we faced in 2010, Joanne also pointed out that it might be even harder to count everyone this year because there have been all of these significant changes in the last ten years in our borough, and particularly in her neighborhood, in Crown Heights.

Joanne Kelly There's been a lot of gentrification in this area. I noticed, because I would—before I got laid off—I would go to work and come home, and usually it's early in the morning and you didn't see too many people or late at night and you weren't taking notice of any people. But since July, I noticed I wasn't seeing a lot of people that I used to see on Nostrand Avenue, and I knew gentrification was pushing down, but a lot of people are absent. And I know they're still here, but I don't know where they are.

Adwoa Adusei Joanne brings up a powerful message. People displaced by gentrification and other factors may still be living in the borough, but perhaps in situations that make them hard to count. Situations such as they’re sharing an apartment with multiple families or they’re occupying an illegal space, or in unstable housing that just makes them hard to reach.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And, you know, the question is: why is it so important to count everyone? 

Adwoa Adusei Well, Krissa, the census, as we mentioned earlier, is what determines how many representatives each state has in Congress, and it distributes almost 700 billion dollars of federal funding to programs in every state. But the census also impacts people in a very practical way. 

Amy Mikel It funds things like where where bus routes go. It funds things like the number of garbage cans that are placed on a city block. It funds things like where playgrounds go, and where cell phone towers go. So, businesses make decisions. They they look at census data. They want to say, well how many people are living in this neighborhood? Should I put my new grocery store and neighborhood A or neighborhood B?

Adwoa Adusei That’s Amy Mikel. 

Amy Mikel My full time job is coordinating the library's 2020 census initiative. It truly is a full time job.

Adwoa Adusei Amy is the library’s head of civic engagement, and it’s her job to tell Brooklynites this simple fact:

Amy Mikel Well, the Census Bureau says that their mission is to count everybody once, and only once, and in the right place.

Adwoa Adusei It’s really that easy, when you get into it. The library is part of a city-wide effort to educate New Yorkers about the census. And New York City is investing a lot in this particular census.

Amy Mikel My understanding is that this could not be more different from from the way the 2010 census was approached in New York City.  In 2020, New York City is investing 40 million dollars in their census campaign, as compared to zero dollars in 2010.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras New York City is making such a huge financial investment because there’s a lot on the line for New Yorkers.

Jeffrey Wice There are sixteen programs, Section 8 housing, school lunch, Medicaid … sixteen programs that impact people directly better based on a per capita or per person basis.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras That last voice is Jeffrey Wice. He’s an adjunct professor at New York Law School and head of the New York Census and Redistricting Institute. 

Jeffrey Wice And each New Yorker for these sixteen programs alone benefits by $2,687. That's just a small pot of money. But, for each New Yorker that is missed in the census, we'd be losing about $3,000 just for sixteen programs. You could imagine, each of us that isn't counted, could be costing New York State, thousands and millions more.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And there’s particular need in Brooklyn to let people know about the census and how they can fill it out — because, as we’ve said earlier, Brooklyn has already a large number of “hard to count” communities. Actually, 80 percent of Brooklynites live in a neighborhood that’s hard to count.

Adwoa Adusei So let’s go through that a bit more. Those hard to count communities might be: people who speak a language other than English, they might be renters or people who move around a lot, people with multiple generations or roommates living at the same address, people over 65 and people who are undocumented or have reason to be mistrustful of the government. Here’s Amy Mikel again.

Family portrait taken in front of an outdoor mural in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
(Ann Rosen photograph collection, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection)

Amy Mikel So there's a lot of examples of of the types of groups that are considered hard to count, and Brooklyn has a lot of these. That's what makes Brooklyn so great, the diversity of people living here.

Joanne Kelly If you start at the Williamsburg Bridge and go to the end of Nostrand Avenue, you've traveled the world.

Adwoa Adusei Here’s Joanne again.

Joanne Kelly You've seen every community. You go from Poland, you go from Germany, you go to Italy … but once you come off the Fulton Street, you're in the Caribbean. You're in Trinidad. You're in Guyana …

Adwoa Adusei Libraries are doing a lot of things to make sure those “hard to count” communities are reached. For instance: all across the country, libraries are partnering with the US Census Bureau to offer information and programming in multiple languages. They’re also providing access to the internet so people can fill out their forms online. And lastly, libraries are uniquely positioned to reach out to another population that’s hard to count: kids under five years old.

Jeffrey Wice Brooklyn has three times as many children under eighteen as Manhattan does. And Brooklyn has larger families, especially in Hasidic Jewish communities.

Adwoa Adusei Last time, about one in five kids were missed in the census. 

Amy Mikel People don't realize that they should be counting their children on the census form. And children are many times living in these very complicated housing situations.

Adwoa Adusei So, kids could be living in more than one household or with different family members. And kids are particularly important because those numbers tells the government where to build schools, and how much money to give to head start programs in different neighborhoods.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras So, you know, in order to drive this home, to make sure that parents understand and caregivers understand that they have to count everyone of all ages in the census, BPL is once again using the power of stories.

Catherine Skrzypek Good morning, everyone! 

Kids Good morning!

Tenzin Kalsang My name is Tenzin Kalsang. I’m a children’s librarian at the Williamsburg branch. And we are reading the book The Doorbell Rang. We’re going to do some activities, arts and crafts, related to the book and also the census, like counting.

Reader No one makes cookies like Grandma, said Ma, as the doorbell rang. It was Tom and Hannah from next door. Come in, said Ma. You can share the cookies. 

Catherine Skrzypek We all like cookies, yes? Do you like to count? Mmhmm. Let’s sing a song about counting. This is called ten little friends. [Singing] One and two and three good friends, four and five …

Tenzin Kalsang Census I think is a really perfect, because it’s about numbers, and also if you don’t count it, then you won’t get the cookies or you can’t go to the park. So you can relate it to their lives.

Catherine Skrzypek So counting is very helpful when you have a plate of cookies to share with your friends and your guests. But, there’s also a time when counting is very important for our communities, and that is every ten years during the United States Census.

Tenzin Kalsang We are trying to educate our Gen-Z’s better so maybe in the future, maybe by the next time we have a better count.

Catherine Skrzypek [Singing] Uno, dos, tres amigos. Quatro, cinco, seis amigos. Siete, ocho, nueve amigos. Diez amigos son.

Kids gather to hear Officer Hunter read The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins during a Read Across Brooklyn event
at Williamsburg Library in early March 2020. (Virginia Marshall, Brooklyn Public Library)

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Aw, gotta love a cute story time! 

Adwoa Adusei And, we just want to say that even though we are encouraging everyone to fill out the census, at the library, our job is to help you fill out the census only if you choose to. We’re here to give you factual information about the census for you to make your own decision about whether or not to fill it out.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And, we get it, people are worried. This hesitation to fill out a government form, it’s something that Joanne was talking about.

Joanne Kelly I think now with the climate is going to be a lot more doors slammed in your face.

Adwoa Adusei Before she was a library census navigator, Joanne worked as an enumerator. That’s the person whose job it is to knock on doors if people don’t respond to the census on their own. She knocked on doors in Brooklyn in 2000 and again in 2010. To get into the big apartment buildings, she had to ring the buzzer and talk to whoever answered.

Joanne Kelly And you have to explain through the buzzer, that you're not ICE that you're not Homeland Security. It's hard to give that pitch that I gave, to get the confidence for them to open the door to let you in.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And, of course, there’s a coronavirus pandemic going on right now, and that’s another reason that people might not want to open their doors or even be able to open them.

Adwoa Adusei That’s why this period we’re in right now is so important. Because, if you fill out the form online or over the phone, no one is going to come knocking on your door.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Exactly! And in a weird coincidence, this is the first year that the US census is going to be something that you can fill out completely online, which is great for a lot of people, even when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, but there is an issue of access.

Adwoa Adusei Currently, about one third of households in Brooklyn don’t have internet access. And there was a pretty good solution to that. Part of the reason that all three library systems of New York City have been such important partners in the effort to help people respond to the 2020 census is that we provide free internet access to every neighborhood in New York City. With Brooklyn, Queens and New York Public Library, there are over 200 library buildings.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras But of course, those 200 library buildings are now closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amy Mikel Everything has changed! So much of what the library and nearly any group I can think of that was invested in the 2020 census was focused on face-to-face based awareness.

Adwoa Adusei So, right now, no one is doing face-to-face census training. People can’t come into the library to fill out their census or learn about what it is. And Amy and her census team are being creative, as we all are these days.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras So for instance, they already had hundreds of copies of this kids book that’s about the US Census in multiple languages. But now they’re going to partner with essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies to put these books on the shelves so families can take them home for free.

Adwoa Adusei Amy’s team is brainstorming different ideas to get the word out, even though much is still unknown about how the current pandemic will play out. They’re still trying to partner with community organizations in any way possible. Today, on April 1st, you can find a lot of virtual programming — such as story times in multiple languages and social media campaigns — that raise awareness about the census.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras These are strange times that we’re in, but another BPL census navigator, Leila Lau, pointed out that the census is one of the ways that she can feel connected to her community.

Leila Lau More so now than ever, with a focus on how different and divided we are, that the census was just a very small way of everyone participating in some way, declaring I’m here, I have a voice. Dyker Heights I think was my first visit, and I was transported to a different world. They know the patrons by name. After school, all the kids go to the library. These are places where people feel safe and the census is about fighting for an ideal of democracy that we, a lot of us feel like we’re losing. That you’re counted no matter what, as human beings.

[Music]

Adwoa Adusei A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of talking to our BookMatch teen group. They  recommended a few books to help put the census in context. 

Ripley Butterfield My name’s Ripley Butterfield. So for the topic of the census, I really wanted to suggest the book Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton. Most people have heard of the Humans of New York series either from the blog or from the Instagram page, I think a lot of people have seen it. But if you haven’t, it’s this project where random individuals on the streets are pictured with their personal story and their words alongside it. Many don’t know that there is a print book though. And it’s really cool. It’s self-described as sort of a visual census of New York City. And I think that it viscerally shows why everyone counts in the census. Because the diversity within even one city is so immense.

Adwoa Adusei Thank you so much, Ripley. And for our next suggestion?

Michelle Hello, my name is Michelle. The book I have is called Who Counts: The Politics of Census Taking in Contemporary America by Margo J Anderson and Stephen Fienberg. It dives into understanding the historical and scientific context of the census adjustment controversies. There have been a lot of controversies revolving around how the census is done. Donald Trump proposed a plan where undocumented people would have to classify themselves as undocumented on the 2020 census, but he was not able to implement those changes for the 2020 census. So you will not be seeing those changes. This book talks about how the government has tried to implement new changes into the way the census works, and it explains why some of those plans did not work out.

Adwoa Adusei That’s excellent. Thank you so much, both of you, for sharing your recommendations. This was awesome.

Ripley Butterfield Thank you for having us.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And, if you’re teaching your kids at home, like a lot of Brooklynites are right now Jordan, another one of our library census navigators, has put together a series of teaching tools for kids of any age to learn more about the census. So that can be a module in your new homeschooling life. You can find all of those on our website and we are also going to have multi-lingual virtual programming options from the BPL census navigator team. 

Adwoa Adusei In the meantime, even as you are social distancing, Amy Mikel reminded us that there are still things you can do to help the census effort.

Amy Mikel So the number one most important thing to do is sort out your own living situation and make sure you complete the census. But once you've done that, I challenge every listener to talk to at least five people about the census.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Okay, so does talking to you about the census count as one of my five people, Adwoa?

Adwoa Adusei Yeah sure, check me off. [Laughter]

Krissa Corbett Cavouras So, you’ve listened all the way to the end of the episode … and we’ve got an experiment to share with you. We started a a group storytelling project among staff and patrons at BPL to keep us connected through these crazy times.

Adwoa Adusei Over the course of three days, 25 people contributed at least one sentence to a story. No one knew where it was going. It’s kind of like the uncertain times we’re in now. Here it is.

In the city, there were only two pigeons. Anansi, so nicknamed for his spider-like agility and cunning, despite only having one foot, and and Jeff, who always knew where to find the best street-food. In fact, it was just after a particularly good meal of popcorn kernels and bread crumbs, when Jeff and Anansi saw the first signs of trouble. 

In the distance, just past the statue of the Marquis de Lafayette, Jeff’s favorite place to perch, appeared a bright red-and-yellow arrow shape in the sky. Suddenly, the arrow started to light up. 

“Woah! What is that?” said Jeff to Anansi. Just then, Anansi and Jeff found themselves being sucked towards the glowing arrow, their wings contorted and maniacally dancing to the disco hit “Staying Alive! Staying Alive!”

Anansi, having been a fan of disco from the time he was still in his egg shell, called out to Jeff, “I don’t think it means us any harm! Certainly not with beats like that.” 

But he was interrupted when, like a clap of thunder, a voice from the arrow bellowed its greeting: “Get in losers! We’re going shopping.” Jeff smiled back at Anansi now, comforted by this quote from his favorite movie. 

“You’re right, Anansi. It can’t be malicious if it loves Mean Girls.”

The strange pull left Jeff and Anansi right at the point of the arrow, which seemed to fall from the sky and point to a doorway at the edge of the park that neither of these adventurous pigeons had ever seen before. Jeff made a beeline to the door, images of super-natural street food and alternate universe pigeons guiding him, until Anansi hopped in his path with an accusatory, “Where do you think you’re going?"

Jeff paused. The reassurance he had felt seconds earlier gave way to trepidation. He relied on his friend to keep him safe. After all, they did not become the last two pigeons in the city by following crowds or doing the obvious. But before Jeff could respond, he was startled by a sudden flutter of wings. Anansi hopped up onto the doorknob, exclaiming: “I’m not letting you get all that good street food first!” 

A tear came to Jeff’s eye because he knew that Anansi just wanted to make sure that Jeff was safe. To shield him from whatever evil might lie on the other side of that door. Jeff’s heart swelled as he watched Anansi stick his beak into the beak-sized key hole and turn.

As the door opened, the aromas from dozens of street carts filled the air. As glowing, empanada nibbles, cheesy mac morsels, Mr. Softee drips, old school dirty water dogs and more, all beckoned them to enter. “What is this place?” whispered Jeff.

"It looks like some sort of street food fair," Anansi said with an awed voice. And while looking around and noticing other entryways all around them, added: “An inter-dimensional street food fair.” 

As Jeff and Anansi started forward, intent on finding the mozzarepa cart, the magical door swung shut behind them and a sound very different from the BeeGees filled their ears. Staccato screeches filled our pigeons’ ears as the recognized the song of their arch NYC nemesis, The Peregrin Flacon.  

The menacing sounds of the falcon became a vision as the great bird swooped and landed before them, grabbing a dirty water dog with a claw and tearing into it, its cobalt black eyes boring into the pigeons’ all the while. Anansi took one look at the falcon’s piercing glare and the slight smirk in its bent black beak and chuckled. It was Regina, yet again.

“Hello boys,” said the falcon, tearing off another bite. “We can do it the easy way, or we can do it the hard way."

This wasn’t the first time Regina had made this ominous threat to Anansi and Jeff. She seemed to be watching far too much crime television lately. But before Anansi and Jeff could begin to wonder what the falcon meant by this, Regina’s eyes widened as she realized she had made a grave mistake, biting into that particular dirty water dog. Regina tried to swallow her bite, but it was no use. The dirty water dog was lodged in her throat.  She began to make anxious fluttering movements with her wings. 

“Ahhh someone save!!! Help, I promise to never torture and taunt these pathetic sons of—” Silence. They had finally witnessed this evil wench being dethroned in the most unexpectedly dark yet laughable way possible. "Ding, dong … the witch is dead," quipped Jeff and Anansi.  

But just as Regina’s lifeless wing drooped to graze the lukewarm hotdog water, an ominous rumbling began and a hissing sound of steam escaping. One of the street food vendors was cutting into the fragrant, warm crust of a massive pie, out of which flew hundreds of pigeons. The flock flew around them, forming a tornado with Anansi and Jeff in the center. 

“They’re origami pigeons!” shouted Anansi.

The only two pigeons in the city watched, first afraid and then relaxing, as they were surrounded by their whirling papery brethren. Sunlight glinted off of disco balls, and Donna Summers began to sing "I Feel Love" as everyone spilled back out onto the streets.

Amazed at the size of the crowd, the two pigeons spread their wings,  flying high above the crowds. Flying wild as if they were dancing to the beat of the music.  Reflecting back, Jeff turns his beak towards his friend, “Hey, amigo, aren’t you surprised how we’ve made it through the most difficult times together! I am sooooo thankful to know, mi amigo, that two pigeons  together can do more than one very good looking pigeon alone!”

“Mira Jeff, don’t get sentimental on me!” shouts Anansi, as they fly on their journey to the next adventure.

Virginia, from Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Adwoa, from Flatbush. Krissa, Sunset Park. Fritzi Bodenheimer, the Financial District. Jack Cavicchi, Crown Heights, Hasina, from Queens. Leigh Fox, Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. Alex Tretiak, Manhattan, New York. Louisa, Bushwick, Brooklyn. Brynna Tucker, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Raquel, Kensington, Brooklyn. June Reich, Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. Charlie, Kensington, Brooklyn. Ellen Halliday, Marine Park, Brooklyn. Izabela Barry, Westchester, New York. Maria McGrath, from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Alexa Orr, Kensington. Rachel Tiemann, South Slope, Brooklyn. Sarah Eagan, from Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Cassie Hickman, from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Marielys Garcia, from Washington DC. Abby Garnett, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Lisa Goldstein, from Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Carolina de Urquijo, Downtown Brooklyn. Melissa, Kensington, Brooklyn. Luz Acevedo, Old Mill Basin, Brooklyn.

A man stands with two pigeons in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn in 1990.
(George Cohen photograph collection, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection)

Krissa Corbett Cavouras All right, I gotta say, I did not see that coming. Though, that was delightful.

Adwoa Adusei Definitely a wild ride, that story. And listeners, this is something you can do with your friends to stay connected during this coronavirus outbreak! It doesn’t require too much tech. All you’ll need is a smart phone with a voice recording app and an audio editing program. There are a few free options out there. We’ve posted our guide to group storytelling in the show notes.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And, you know, we are librarians, so we feel duty-bound to tell you that this idea is actually really old and goes back to the 14th century epic The Decameron which was a long book by Giovanni Boccaccio that has been making a little bit of a comeback recently. The Decameron was this text written during the plague in Italy, and the premise of this book was that this group of ten friends had escaped to the countryside to actually avoid the black death, and they are telling each other stories to pass the time. It’s that original idea of a meme and it was 100 stories, to be exact.

[Music]

Adwoa Adusei Borrowed is brought to you by Brooklyn Public Library and is hosted by me, Adwoa Adusei, and Krissa Corbett Cavouras. You can find a transcript of this episode at our website, B-K-L-Y-N Library [dot] org [slash] podcasts.  

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Borrowed is produced and written by Virginia Marshall with help from Fritzi Bodenheimer, Jennifer Proffitt, Meryl Friedman and Robin Lester Kenton. Our music composer is Billy Libby.  

Adwoa Adusei Borrowed will be back in two weeks. Until then, fill out your census!

close navigation 
Only 50% of Brooklyn households have responded to the 2020 Census. Have you?
Take the Census