13 locations at playgrounds and parks around the city
Little free libraries are beautiful, functional works of art that help build community. They develop literacy skills and encourage a love of reading by making it easy for families to exchange books in an informal, neighborhood setting.
This project would establish 13 little free libraries for children located at playgrounds around the city and other facilities where children congregate, encouraging families to recycle outgrown books, take a break to read while playing at the playground, and/or borrow books to read at home and then return (or replace with another book.) An advisory committee, coordinated through the city’s Agenda for Children’s Literacy Initiative, would be established to decide on locations and provide ongoing oversight.
There are already an (undetermined) number of little free libraries in Cambridge as well as the book exchange at the DPW recycling center. They allow people to take books and return them or leave other books in exchange. They have mostly arisen at random, where an individual, neighborhood or business has decided to establish them. This project would take a more methodical approach by giving the city the responsibility for siting them, with input from an advisory committee, in locations that would serve primarily children at playgrounds around the city, in public housing facilities and/or at other locations where children and families congregate. Special care should be taken to site these libraries in playgrounds that are located further from public library branches and with consideration of linguistic minorities that might use any particular site. The City’s Agenda for Children's Literacy Initiative receives many gently used books that they would like to contribute to fill the libraries. They are also willing to play a role in coordinating an advisory committee to site and maintain the libraries.
Little free libraries are also an opportunity to place functional works of art around the city. The Arts Council would be involved in determining how opportunities to transform the physical containers for the libraries into artworks and funding should be included for art supplies and/or small grants to interested artists.
The City’s cost estimate of $37,000 includes $1,625 per unit for purchase and installation of 13 units (rounded to $22,000 total), plus $15,000 to commission an artist to design the libraries.