The Uni: A Portable Reading Room

Sometime ago, a friend challenged me to name the first five scenes from my childhood that came to mind. Among the unsurprising locations – a routinely visited church sanctuary, the kitchen table at mealtime – there resurfaced memories of being surrounded by bookshelves in a library or bookstore. I’m sure it is the case for many of you, as it was for me, that the neighborhood library often felt like a second home.

I was reminded of this story when I came across The Uni Project on Kickstarter. Co-founded by Leslie and Sam Davol, The Uni is a light-weight, portable reading room intended to introduce reading spaces to urban environments. The structure was designed by a team at MIT and consists of 144 stackable cubes. Currently, the team is working on their first model, which will be installed in New York City in Fall 2011. They have the grant. They have the team. They have the space. All they need now is the support to be able to complete its construction.

With bookstores closing daily and libraries struggling for lack of funding, The Uni addresses a growing need for free, community reading spaces. To illustrate this point, on the nonprofit’s website, there’s a picture of a typical American mall food court – MacDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, Ben & Jerry. In the adjacent panel there’s this quote: “If we’re serious about having a well-educated society, then books and learning should be what is prominent, accessible and all around us.”

I can’t imagine living in a town where books are not prominent, accessible and all around, which is why I was thrilled to have found this worthy project and will definitely be supporting it.

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