Celebrating 50 years of hip hop

Oak Park Public Library is thrilled to be one of more than 30 organizations around the country—including libraries, museums, colleges, universities, and archives—partnering for Collections of Culture: 50 Years of Hip Hop Inside Libraries, Museums and Archives

Led by the Queens (NY) Public Library (QPL) as part of the six-month celebration, funded through a $267,760 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, participating institutions will host a plethora of in-person and virtual programs—including panel discussions, author talks, educational forums, and workshops—examining the genre’s history and influence on American culture and the contributions of its musicians, DJs, dancers, MCs, graffiti artists, stylists, directors, photographers, entrepreneurs, and educators. 

“Hip Hop has been used as a learning tool for many years. We are humbled by the IMLS grant and the response we have received from our partners and collaborators, and excited that communities around the country will come together to deepen their understanding of hip hop as it turns 50.” 

QPL Hip Hop Coordinator Ralph McDaniels

Joining more than 30 organizations nationwide

In addition to Oak Park, the core group of 15 participating institutions includes New York City’s three public library systems (Queens Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and The New York Public Library, which covers the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island); the Universal Hip Hop Museum in the Bronx, NY; the Black Caucus of the American Library Association; Las Vegas-Clark County Library District in Las Vegas, Nevada; LA County Library in Los Angeles, California; the Free Library of Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA; Great Plains Black History Museum in Omaha, Nebraska; Trap Music Museum in Atlanta, GA; The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History in Atlanta, GA; Museum of Graffiti in Miami, FL; Black Beauty Archives in New York City; and Black Women Writers Project, online. 

Sixteen additional partners also will offer programming as part of the initiative: Archive Alive (online); Black Bottom Archives in Detroit, MI; Black Fashion Archive (online); Georgia State University Library in Atlanta, GA; HTX Hip-Hop Museum in Houston, TX; Mixtape Museum (online); Mount Vernon Public Library in Mt. Vernon, NY; Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City; Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in Seattle, WA; Paul Robeson House & Museum in Philadelphia, PA; Roosevelt Public Library in Roosevelt, NY; SCREWED UP HQ in Houston, TX; VTDITC: Hip Hop Studies at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA; William & Mary Hip Hop Collection in Williamsburg, VA; Wyandanch Public Library in Wyandanch, NY; and National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, TN. 

A partnership unlike any other

The partnerships between libraries, museums, and archives will create broader networks of support, increase inclusivity, and expand access to each institution’s collections, outreach, and expertise in cultural and information sharing. 

“Never in the history of libraries, museums and archives have over 30+ institutions come together to lead a charge of this magnitude. We are honored to support this extraordinary feat.”

The Gates Preserve founder Syreeta Gates

The initiative will culminate in a two-day summit from August 3-4, in Queens, New York, which aims to further explore the history of hip hop and its expansion into different sectors of society, including higher education, marketing/advertising, other genres of music, social justice, civil rights, economics, etc. The summit will be a part of New York City’s larger celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip hop. 

QPL leading the way

QPL spearheaded the multi-organizational collaboration given the role of Queens in hip hop history and culture. The borough produced a number of successful hip hop groups and rappers, like Salt-N-Pepa, Run-DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Mobb Deep, Ja Rule, and Nicki Minaj. 

In recognition of the important role Queens communities have played in hip hop’s ascension from a local art form to an international phenomenon, QPL established a hip hop program in 2015, when it hired its first-ever hip hop coordinator – Ralph “Uncle” McDaniels. McDaniels started the long-running music television show “Video Music Box” and is widely considered one of the gatekeepers of the culture. In his current role, McDaniels creates programming to raise the public’s awareness of hip hop, and its five core elements: MCing, DJing, graffiti, breakdancing, and knowledge. 

QPL also preserves hip hop’s legacy in Queens through its collection of artifacts such as photographs, periodicals, audio tapes, videotapes, writings, news articles, flyers, and oral histories from people involved with the genre from its origins until now. 

For the multi-organizational 50th anniversary celebration of hip hop, QPL, with the assistance and support of The Gates Preserve, a multimedia hip hop archiving and preservation firm, will support each institution with creating programming and curating a digital archive of each institution’s programs, which in the future will serve as learning tools for educators about hip hop and beyond. The recordings will be cataloged in QPL’s Digital Hip Hop Archive. 

“QPL’s hip hop program has drawn people of all ages and backgrounds to our spaces and has created a unique community connected by a love for music and knowledge,” said QPL President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “We are thrilled to share our experience with libraries, museums, archives, and other educational institutions across the country to celebrate hip hop’s 50th anniversary, and we are grateful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services and to our partners for their tremendous support in making sure that hip hop remains part of our culture for generations to come.” 

Register to create your own online calendar of events

A calendar of events is available at hiphop50.queenslibrary.org, a stand-alone site designed by Virtual Experience Design Agency (VEDA).

Related Oak Park programs and initiatives as part of this grant will be added to the site and this webpage as soon as they are available.

Those who register can access a built-in custom news feed about the various programs, notifying users about newly added events and updates. Users can also bookmark the events they want to attend. 

Additional programs will be added to the schedule throughout the duration of the initiative. Programming at all organizations will run through August 2023. 

Stay current on news and new arrivals.

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