Though the proposed 90 story resort casino with on-site yacht parking will bring many amenities to Jersey City, that development will not include a library. Perhaps in response to this shortcoming, Jersey City is bringing education out of classrooms and into public spaces with a small-scale, semi-permanent library.
Architecture and development firm Jorge Mastropietro Architects Atelier (JMA) created for the Jersey City Little Free Library Competition. The New York– and Buenos Aires–based firm created a diminutive, shape-shifting outdoor book kiosk in Hamilton Park. This is one local example of over 32,000 registered Little Free Libraries worldwide (map).
[En]Light is made of semi-transparent acrylic, so that books are visible from the outside but protected from the elements. Its orange aluminum casing unfolds, chrysalis-like, into benches, creating a gathering space around the project. At night, [En]Light lights up, a glowing beacon for bibliophiles (and probably moths, too).
In a statement, founding principal Jorge Mastropietro explained the significance of the design: “We’ve emphasized the importance of the printed word in an age of digital media. To celebrate the public role of a library, it’s important to build community interaction—bringing together people and knowledge in an organic way, just as the best libraries do.”Little Free Library is a national movement to broaden access to books and foster enjoyment of reading. Founded in 2009, the movement is inspired by the wide-reaching philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie’s public libraries, as well as the “take a book, leave a book” systems of local cafes.
It’s up to leaders in individual communities to establish their own book boxes; organizers can register their library with the Little Free Library website to gain recognition and support. The Little Free Library was honored last month by the Library of Congress (one of the world’s largest) for its unconventional approach to building literacy.