The project began in March 2022 when a friend confided in me about their abusive marriage. Among other vile acts, including physical abuse and threats with weapons, the abuser would take their phone, money & car keys away when angry or jealous,i.e., no way to communicate or physically leave their shared domicile.
I had an extra phone & line via my family plan, so I provided them with an “untraceable” mobile phone. Before passing the phone, I created a secret email account, added DV & other social service phone numbers & hotlines in the Contacts & left notes about Massachusetts DV resources* in the phone, allowing them to plan an escape.
The idea of crafting a book as a “safe” to hide the phone came later after they realized they didn’t have a place to hide the phone. Using a discarded library book, a crude but workable book safe was created. Using the phone, my friend was able to connect with lawyers, DV/IVP support groups/non-profits, and was able to make a safety plan and finally leave their marriage in Summer 2022.
The vision for the BiblioUnderground is to have a network of volunteer librarians across the country create Bi2Fks, with both national and local resources, then distributed to DV support and advocacy groups, OBGYNs, clergy with a CV of progressive outreach work, or even directly to those suffering themselves. Librarians already have the knowledge and multiple infrastructures to craft and send out Bi2FKs, but without an independent organization to connect librarians, provide funding and streamline supplies (phones, postage, etc.) the network is offline.
In the meantime, this project is meant to inspire everyone to be like Lithuanian “knygnešiaĩ” – book smuggling freedom fighters.
I recently quit my full-time job to bring The BiblioUnderground online. A Kickstarter campaign is being set-up. The money from this Kickstarter is not to create a non-profit (per Kickstarter’s rules). The money from this Kickstarter will go towards supplies (the “pay-as-you-go” phones, rotary cutters and blade refills, glue sticks, Goo Gone, cutting boards, plus the books themselves are to be purchased at Friend’s of the Library Book Sales, thus also supporting local public libraries).
Thank you for reading, and for any support you are able to provide. Visit the FAQ page for more information.
*Reference librarians, in particular, are notorious for their detailed annotating.