Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Manhattans Outdoor Reading Rooms

We're creating a list of Manhattan's Outdoor Reading Rooms, if you know of a location not listed, contact us at wtgichelsea (at)

Park Chelsea Associated Units

Dias y Flores Community Garden 13th Street between Ave A and B

 NYC Dreamcenter at Elliott Chelsea Houses
 (also Harlem has a site in Harlem)

Theresas Park 39th st Btw 9th/10th Ave

Oasis Community Garden
52ns St off 10th Ave

Outdoor Reading Room for the Homeless 28th St 9th Ave
(part of the Relief Bus , travels  to 5 locations in Manhattan and NJ)

 Fulton Senior Center
17th St 9th Ave

Revolutionary Books 26th St 7th Ave

Asher Levy Recreation Center 23rd St, Ave B

Police Athletic League 52nd St 10th Ave

Other Manhattan Outdoor Reading Rooms

Harlem Success Garden

Bennett Park, Washington Heights
Bryant Park Reading Room

Rockefeller Park, Battery Park City

Pen Writers  Little Free Libraries

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bird Feeders for Readers: Outdoor Reading Rooms for Manhattan Residents

Quality bird feeder
 This is a bird feeder. It contains food. It  both attracts birds and provides nourishment for them. link

 This is a bird feeder for readers. . It contains books and magazines.  It's both attracts readers and provides intellectual nourishment for them.

Bird Feeders for Readers are a really low cost way(about $40) of  helping to activating our public spaces. To create one:

 We take a Rubbermaid All Access  storage bin  ($17)...

add dividers (about $15)

Tape corrugated plastic to top *so rain does not collect)  , add logo ($8)

...and a bunch of children's books and possibly  magazines for adults

 then we put them together and place them in a public space with seating


and if we are successful we get something that looks like this...

Poster on community garden fence letting public know about reader

Bird Feeders for Readers are a lot like Little Free Libraries, the difference being Little Free Libraries work on the Take a Book/Leave a Book principal . Bird Feeders for Readers childrens books and magazines for adults  are not meant to circulate, they are meant to be read while you are at a park and returned when you leave.

Note: All access organizers are not UV protected. They will be good for at least a year, if your outdoor library is working well at that time, consider replacing this with a more permanent unit

 Some of the Benefits of Outdoor Reading Rooms:

Lack of Libraries and Bookstores
There used to be a lot of bookstores in our neighborhoods where people could go to browse books and read magazines. There aren't a lot of these anymore.

Our neighborhoods do still have libraries, but there aren't a great number of these. And besides when the weather is good, wouldn't you rather be reading outdoors?

Studies have shown that  "Giving Children Access to Print Materials Improves Reading Performance"  link     and " the first step any literacy campaign needs to take is to make sure children have access to plenty of books." link

 This map shows the libraries of community board 4. There are just 2, for a rather large area. Ain't many bookstores anymore here either. Outdoor reading rooms in our public spaces can help fill the gap of access to print reading materials.

Lack of  Adult Activities in Neighborhood Parks

 Many of Manhattan's  neighborhoods lack a sufficient quantity of green spaces. But beyond a lack of open space there is even a greater problem with our public spaces. As it turns out many  of Manhattans public spaces offer their adult  users little more then a bench to sit on.

                                This is an example of a neighborhood park offers adults a place to sit and little else

Alternative to Food Recreation
The major activity offering of  our Dept of Transportation Plazas and Parks Dept. Conservancy Parks seems to be offering people something to eat.

The yellow dots are "food recreation"  locations in parks, plazas, and privately owned public spaces. The green dots are activities recreation in the same area.There are 17 food vendors in these spaces. Only 3 spaces in this same area offer active recreation.

Hey,  food is great, but offering only "food recreation" as an activity in our public spaces helps to fuel our obesity crisis.

see also:  Manhattans Outdoor Reading Rooms

Midtown Manhattan's Active Recreation Exclusion Zone

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bird Feeders

Little Free Library books are meant to be taken, they are a   success  when  person takes care of unit (constant restocking)

Little Free Library  PEN Writes Union -Failures -no one restocks library

Great designs-no books   when i visited

Penn South Laundry room Book/ Magazine Recycling -There is no one keeper of the units , tenants have the responsibility to  restock themselves and constantly do so

Bird Feeders for Readers are not meant to be Libraries they are Outdoor Reading Rooms -no taking of books

Why have Outdoor Reading Rooms

Lack of Libraries in many neighborhoods

Lack of Bookstores
  The number of bookstores in Manhattan fell drastically between 2000 and 2012,plummeting by almost 30 percent. Even large chains like Barnes & Noble, once painted as the enemy of independent bookstores, have not been immune to the industry’s woes. Borders, which had five outlets in Manhattan, declared bankruptcy in 2011. Several Barnes & Nobles have closed throughout the city in recent years.  NYT

Literacy stuff

Research consistently shows that children who live in low-income neighborhoods have little access to reading material in their public libraries, in their schools, and at home. After investigating access to reading material in different neighborhoods, Neuman and Celano (2001) concluded that that " ... children in middle-income neighborhoods were likely to be deluged with a wide variety of reading materials. However, children from poor neighborhoods would have to aggressively and persistently seek them out" (p. 15).
If more access leads to more reading, and if more reading leads to better reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and a larger vocabulary (for overwhelming evidence, see Krashen, 2004), this means that the first step any literacy campaign needs to take is to make sure children have access to plenty of books. link

Bryant Park-Stocking outdoor reading room partially  through magazine subscriptions

 Bryant Park 300-500 users a day.

Magazine subscriptions

Under $5.00
$5 to $10

-Either each locations gets to choose  $50 in magazines
or 2 locationswill  get to choose $100 of magazines

-To get magazines someone(s) at garden  must volunteer to receive magazines and bring to garden
-ask garden keepers if willing to do, gardens that say yes get magazines

Extra storage to add books if needed

 Larger Unit for one location

Specialized Bird Feeders
Comic Books

Networking Public spaces with Unified Public Space maps

Park  East Harlem