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