Allow BPL to re-introduce itself.
The Book of HOV, an immersive tribute to legendary rapper Jay Z, set a record attendance and engagement during a five-month stint at Brooklyn Public Library’s central branch.
The homage created by Roc Nation included wrapping the library in the artist’s lyrics, never-seen-before photos, and a life-size replica of the recording studio where Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter recorded one of his first records, among other larger-than-life and interactive displays.
Since opening over the summer, the exhibit brought in more than 600,000 visitors — a 74% increase in the central branch’s attendance. The library also had nearly 11,000 patrons during the exhibit’s final day on Dec. 4, the most visitors recorded in a single day in BPL history.
Linda E. Johnson, president and CEO of BPL, said the team has already seen new patrons, who came solely for the exhibit, begin to enjoy the center’s various other resources.
“This exhibition is a testament to Jay-Z’s global impact, and to the dynamic energy and spirit of Brooklynites and hip-hop fans,” Johnson said. “We look forward to welcoming back our new patrons and cardholders who, thanks to The Book of HOV, have already begun enjoying all of the materials, services and programming the library has to offer.”
Desiree Perez, CEO of Roc Nation, applauded the exhibit’s ability to celebrate Brooklyn culture and bring in new library users.
“What began as a seed of an idea grew to one of the most culturally significant events of 2023,” Perez said in a statement.
Hip-hop fans traveled from near and far to get a peek at the one-of-a-kind tributes. One long-time Jay-Z admirer, Jared Tennant, made the trek from Pennsylvania to see the exhibit.
“I started listening to Jay Z in the 90s when he released Reasonable Doubt and was instantly a fan,” Tennant told Brooklyn Paper. “Jay-Z and Nas have been my two favorite MCs as far back as I can remember and I’m a huge hip-hop fan, especially 90’s and 2000’s hip-hop, so there was no way I would miss out on an exhibit like this.”
Tennant — a full-time DJ who goes by the stage name DJ Gatsby — also produce his own beats, so to witness some of Jay-Z’s original masters and see his equipment up-close was “just incredible to see.”
Taking the partnership a step further, BPL and Roc Nation also collaborated to release 13 limited-edition library cards. The exclusive cards — featuring images of Jay-Z and related works — could be collected by library-goers at different branches across the borough.
Though the exhibit has come and gone, Brooklynites can still stop into BPL’s flagship branch at 10 Grand Army Plaza to check out books on Jay-Z’s curated bookshelf, or to listen to one of many albums sampled by the hip-hop legend in the library’s vinyl collection.