Sunday, June 28, 2015

NYC's Parks as NYC's Outdoor Libraries

As I said in this post, if libraries offer recreation equipment and become de facto parkhouses they will be doing a great favor for our parks. Parks can return the favor by working with libraries to allow parks to act as  acting as satellite  outdoor libraries.

-In the area where I live our playgrounds are all optimized for one purpose, exercise. Kids also need other types of recreation...
A very important one  of these  type of recreation missing in low income neighborhoods is reading recreation.

-“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

Have libraries work with the parks department on creating/stocking childrens “outdoor reading rooms” in parks similar to the Little Free Library the Marcellus Free Library hosts in Marcellus Park. . I talked with Robin Bolewski of the Marcellus Free Library and she said something to the effect that when she first broached the idea of a Little Free Library in the park, the parks dept said “No Way”. She then brought the idea to the their bosses the town council who said great idea, lets do it. It has become such a success that the towns libraries and parks are now working on other cooperative projects to benefit the community.

The Mini Libraries  Urban Librarians Unite is pleased to announce its own small network of little libraries. These bright orange newspaper boxes have been set up outside of libraries in Brooklyn and Queens which are closed due to damage from Hurricane Sandy. These tiny, all weather libraries house about a hundred books at a time and there is no expectation whatsoever that the books will come back to them.
Unit cost under $300

A tiny outdoor library in a park in Ɯberlingen, Germany. ( I suspect the books and shelving  are set back far enough so that this unit is rainproof. )   link

Bogota, Colombia

The awning makes this outdoor library weather proof.

Small  playgrounds would get small  libraries for children . Large spaces could get the larger units.

Material  is  meant to be read in the park, not circulate, and should be tagged "Do not remove" .

On Manhattans west side 14th to 110th St, 7th Ave to the river there are 5 libraries. There are 40 parks and playgrounds. Adding a satellite outdoor children's library to each of these wold result in a lot more chances for kids to be reading.

Our parks Dept has a mission of increasing Physical literacy  to NYC residents
Our library have a mission of increasing  reading literacy.

Working alone our parks have no staffed parkhouses to loan equipment. Our libraries have no outdoor reading rooms  . By working together, both institutions will be able to offer staffed parkhouses and outdoor reading rooms to better serve their neighborhoods.

In bring up up the concept of NYC's libraries stocking recreation equipment, one city official said to me that libraries don't have funds to do so.I suspect funding can be found, but if there is no funding there is another way...

The above Shake Shack is in NYC's Madison Square Park. The below Java City is in the Cherry Hill Public Library in NJ. Both are private enterprises operating in a park or library.


 One way for this idea to be implemented  is to have  our Parks Dept  setup indoor recreation equipment loan facilities in nearby libraries.and  have our libraries help set up Outdoor reading rooms in surrounding parks.

The Outdoor reading rooms would be set up by libraries and  unstaffed. Librarians would stop by to refresh them periodically,  excellent source of childrens books would be community donations, and book weeded out of library collections. .In good weather libraries can hold storytelling's in our parks ,and tout their "outdoor reading rooms'.

Equipment Check out
The Library recreation equipment loan would be staffed by libraries as part of their process of loaning material process. They may or may not be integrated into the library checkout system (if not you would leave a library card in exchange for loaning an object). By not integrating these objects into the library checkout system. It becomes easier to immediately order new equipment locally without having it become part of a long process of being ordered by central and delivered to the library.

 I recently found out that some New York Public Library branches had received board games that could be used in the library. To borrow a game you leave your library card at the desk.

See Also: Outdoor Reading Rooms