Posts Tagged ‘uni’

This group of photos starts with four from New Shoreham, including the Southeast Light and the posters on the food truck.

Next we have two sides of a utility box in Arlington, Mass. — the work of local artists. Many other utility boxes around town are painted, all charming.

The old, unused water works building always strikes me as a perfect setting for a mystery novel. The dog in the next photo is checking out the portable Uni library in the Greenway, an initiative of Sam and Leslie Davol.

The lushness of the hydrangeas this year makes me think of sheep. I start singing, “Sheep may safely graze and pasture/ In a watchful shepherd’s eye.”

And you know clouds.















































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First there was the photo, which was tweeted with a link to tumblr. But tumblr offered no story and no credit. I did some searching and found the story at The Trumpet. It reminds me of this post on Sam and Leslie’s Uni, a pop-up library that has traveled from New York to Kazakhstan and many places in between.

At The Trumpet, Jeremiah Jacques reports on a Mongolian Andrew Carnegie (without the fortune). “What do you do if you are a young book lover? You go to the library. But what if you live in the rural regions of the Gobi desert? Your situation would be bleak — were it not for Dashdondog Jamba. He has devoted his life to writing, translating, publishing and transporting books to children all over Mongolia with his Children’s Mobile Library.

“ ‘I can’t remember how many trips I have made—I have lost count,’ Mr. Jamba said. ‘Sometimes we travel by camel, sometimes on horseback, and with horse carts or ox carts; we now also have our van.’

“Over the last 20 years, his library has traveled 50,000 miles through every province of Mongolia — mostly before the van was part of the operation. Jamba’s assistants are his wife and his son. They often spend several days in one place to give as many children as possible a chance to read their books.

“ ‘[It] is a little different from other libraries,’ Jamba says. ‘The walls of this reading room are made of mountains covered with forest, the roof is blue sky, the floor is a flower-covered steppe, and the reading light bulb is the sun.’

“Jamba created his library in the early 1990s, shortly after Mongolia abandoned communism and adopted free-market economics. Life in Mongolia changed dramatically, mostly for the good. But organizations focused on children’s literature fared badly. They were viewed as profitless, so no private investors wanted to take them over. Most children’s libraries were converted into banks.

“Jamba tried to keep the libraries alive. … Ever since, he’s been writing children’s books, translating foreign youth literature into Mongolian, and bringing books to children who would otherwise never read them. Several of his original books have earned the Best Book of Mongolia award. Some of his stories have been put to song. Some have been made into movies. In 2006, his mobile library won the prestigious ibby-Asahi Reading Promotion Award.” More here.

Photo: Dashdondog Jamba
Dashdondog Jamba has traveled more than 50,000 miles through every province of Mongolia with his Children’s Mobile Library.

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Libraries are busting out all over. We’ve blogged about the Little Free Library in Cambridge as well as Sam and Leslie Davol’s uni, which got invited to Kazakhstan — not to mention a library housed in an unused pay phone shelter.

Now it seems that a subway system in China is getting into the act.

Writes Zhang Kun at China Daily, “Shanghai’s Metro Line 2 is turning a new page with a library taking literally an online approach. Passengers will be able to select a book at one station, and return it to any of the other stations with customized bookshelves.

“Readers do not have to pay a deposit or any rent for the books and magazines they take. Instead, they are encouraged to donate 1 yuan (16 US cents) to charity at the bookshelf.

” ‘Now you can read a real book, rather than staring at the cellphone through the metro ride,’ said Zou Shuxian, a spokeswoman for the Aizhi bookstore, which initiated the project jointly with Hujiang.com” and the Metro Line.

“The Chinese Academy of Press and Publication released a survey recently that said the general public between the ages of 18 to 70 read 4.39 books in 2012, much fewer than in Western countries.”

The library “has been a resounding success with office workers. Waiting lines have developed during rush hour. … All the books have green tape on the cover to inform people about the program [and] to remind people it is borrowed and should be returned.”

I myself find it essential to have a book with me whenever I take the subway, but that’s largely because I ride the oldest system in America and it’s always breaking down.

My husband, who lived in Shanghai for about a year, says subways there are fast and efficient. I don’t think book lovers will have time to finish their books before their last stop. A lot of green tapes will be going home with commuters. You can’t keep a book lover down.

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The other day on an American Public Media radio broadcast, I heard a story about Better Block Houston and its approach to urban revitalization. “The Better Block is a national movement which originated in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. Better Block projects have improved neighborhoods in Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Portland, and Memphis.”

Concerned residents focus on a vision for one block and throw a daylong event showing the potential.  The idea is that visitors might come to see the event and its special one-day amenities and would then notice cool things about the area and decide to return. New businesses might decide to move in. Sounds like wishful thinking, but the Better Block folks claim the approach is attracting more foot traffic and business.

“The ‘Better Block’ project provides a one-day living workshop of how a ‘Complete Street’ works, by actively engaging the community, helping them to visualize better outcomes for the future, and empowering them to provide feedback in real time. Better Block is a fun and interactive demonstration of a ‘Complete Street’ — and what it can do for a neighborhood. Complete Streets …  are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a complete street. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations.”

In Boston, a young couple I know, Sam and Leslie Davol, had an idea to set up a temporary library in Chinatown, which had not had a branch library in decades. Their project made use of a storefront that had been vacant during the economic downturn.

Leslie just sent out an e-mail about what they’re working on next: The Uni Project.

“Many of you know the Storefront Library, which Sam and I undertook in a vacant storefront in Boston’s Chinatown last year. That project had a big impact on us, just as it did on the Chinatown community. Since then, we’ve helped several local groups take over the books and Chinatown’s library advocacy, and we’ve spent time exploring a broader need for places like libraries in urban neighborhoods and cities generally. …

“The Uni is a portable infrastructure that will allow us to quickly deploy and create staffed, open-air reading rooms in almost any available urban space. The Uni is based on a system of cubes, and the books inside those cubes are just the start. Like libraries, we plan to use the Uni to provide a compelling venue for readings, talks, workshops, and screenings, through partnerships with local organizations and institutions. And the best part, once we fabricate this lightweight infrastructure, we can keep it running, serve multiple locations, and even replicate it.” Read about The Uni Project here.

8/11/12 update on Uni Project here. Now it’s even in Kazakhstan.

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