The National Book Foundation Announces the Winners of its Annual Innovations in Reading Prize
Little Free Library
In 2010, when Todd Bol and Rick Brooks first shared ideas about what was to become the Little Free Library movement, the idea was simple-a box of books that looked like a one-room school house with a sign that said "Free Books." Posted in his front yard by the St. Croix River in Hudson, Wisconsin, the first model was a memorial to Bol's mother, a teacher who loved to read. But the curiosity and delight of neighbors suggested there was something more to it. The phrase "Take a Book, Return a Book" explained it pretty well, the name Little Free Library stuck, and the mission became clear-to promote a sense of community, reading for children, literacy for adults, and libraries around the world.
By late 2011, nearly 400 Little Free Libraries had been installed in the U.S. Within two more years, the total had swelled to between 6,000 and 8,000 in forty-two countries, from Ghana to Japan. Millions of people have opened the doors of Little Free Libraries to find good books donated by their neighbors and contributed their favorites for others to read.
The Uni Project
New York, NY
The Uni is a portable reading room for New York City conceived of and run by Leslie and Sam Davol. It provides a new kind of amenity for city residents, while fostering a stronger, more prominent culture of reading and learning.
The Uni consists of lightweight cubes that serve as shelves and stack to create a place to gather. Benches provide seating, and volunteers act as hosts. The people who gather around are transformed into readers on a kind of stage, and neighborhoods are transformed into places where the value of reading and learning is recognized, promoted, and shared.
The Uni was launched with a crowd-funding campaign and put into service on September 11, 2011. In 2012, Leslie and Sam deployed the Uni ten times in seven different New York City neighborhoods, and also shipped a second Uni to Almaty, Kazakhstan.
In 2013, with the support of foundations and a growing list of contributors, the project will more than double the number of NYC deployments. The project will also launch a new cart design, which will be offered to neighborhoods and cities beyond the reach of the Uni in New York.