Street Library - National Highschool „Calistrat Hogaș” Piatra Neamț
Free Libraries are popular abroad and in Romania's largest city, we would like to bring this concept in our city as well. Even if it is not an easy project we took on the challenge because we believe it will bring a lot of joy in our community. Our goal is to build some small boxes placed across the city where you can take and/or bring a book.
This is a way we would promote reading and lecture. The books donated can be fantasy, romance, drama, contemporaneous literature or older book. The key is to share the books we have with the community. Would you be interested to go to the market to buy some bread and get back home with a Dostoievski book?
We started out work on May 1st, when we organized our work, for over two weeks we collected books for the library. The first street library was already built, and we aim to built 3 more by June 20th.
Change story facilitated by teacher Mihaela Cătălina Tărcăoanu,
List some of the problems identifies by students:
Student were very realistic and objectives. They identified multiple problems such us:
- missing classes
- lack of community involvement in community activities
- increased price of books, limiting access to books and there so reading
- excessive use of technology
Explain what problem was selected and why:
We have decided to solve the problem of books because we love to read but it is challenging to access them because of the price, which is one of the reasons we have decided to start the free libraries.
On the other hand there are many active members of the community who are have many books and due to space need to trow them away; Why trow away something that can become a common good, which can bring joy to others.
Who is affected by this problem? Why?
Teenagers are the ones affected by this issue, because they depend on their parents funds. We also noticed that teenagers didn't lose their appetite for reading, rather the opposite and this this brings us joy.
List all your solutions:
We found multiple solutions such us:
- host weekly events for books donations
- book fairs
- an app to notify the readers each time an online library had sales going on
- street libraries
What solution was selected and why?
The solution selected was Street Library. We are motivated to encourage pedestrians to read and help them discover the fantasy world as well as bust the myth that "teenagers don't read"
In our city and not only, books are expensive and many can't afford them. This is why you can't read as much as you want as long as you depend on your parents money or you don't have sufficient funds to purchase the books wanted. Though this solution we are making reading accessible for those who want to. In this way those who have books can give those away to impact rather than dusting on a shelf.
Describe the solution implementation process.
The local NGO Comunitatea Noastra organized a pitch competition for teenagers and we sign up with our project. In this competition we had received funding and in this way we started putting our ideas into practice. We created a facebook page and start building awareness in our community After this we became active on social media and we presented our project to the community: https://www.facebook.com/BibliotecaStradalaNeamt/.
Even if we could have used the seed funding for buying books, we had decided to involve the community in a books donation process for 2 weeks when community members and not only could donate books for our project in a local book store called Humanitas, who was supporting our efforts. In the same time we started building the "libraries" out of wood, project supported by Nord Arin a local sponsoring organization. Lastly we also organized a round table with local community members interested in reading and those involved to collect their feedback and ideas. The libraries have been built and over 300 donated books have been sorted and organized. Next we installed the 4 libraries in popular areas of the city.
What are some of the results and impact generated?
Over 300 books were received from local community members and over 100 received by mail from other communities. We had installed 4 street libraries (we like to call them nests) we are very proud of, we have a page on social media as well as we were able to organize a round table with our readers to learn their expectations about the project and soon many community members will be able to take or bring a book to our libraries.
How many people benefited from your solution?
more than 100 individuals
What did the beneficiaries said about your solution? Write 2 testimonials or opinions.
I have visited large cities in the world and I have seen this type of libraries, I am very happy to see such an initiative which promotes culture and civic involvement in our city, good job girls! - Teodora - student who wants something else
I was wondering if you will be successful in this initiative, it is an important step for readers in our city Piatra-Neamt. I am very happy that I could go to the park, pick up a book from the free library, read it outside and than return it. I hope this will work! Diana, mother and avid reader.
Congratulation my dears! Best of luck! You have an open mind and are an example for our community! A person with open mind generates a ripple effect! Look beyond yourself! Mihaela Cătălina Tărcăoanu, teacher and individual who believes in Words
What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge was receiving the permit from the city hall. We initially wanted to install the "nests" in public areas such as Central Park, local theater, History Museum, we would have receive them but we would have had to wait another 6 months.
We were determined to place the "nests" before the end of the month. There so we adapted and we installed the "nests" on private properties where it was easier to install them. In this way we were able to install 4 of the "nests" in different parts of the city by the end of June.
Another challenge was people lack of trust, they were asked questions like "What if they will steal the books?" , " What if they damage the boxes?" We want to make good behavior popular again. We believe in people's civic responsibility and we are sure that when people would take a book and would not return it or bring another one in exchange, is a sign that people are using our service. It is a sign that people are once again passionate about their books and want to keep them for themselves.
How long did it take you to implement this solutions?
more than 30 days
What did you do to promote the project in your school or community? With whom did you speak and what answers did you receive?
The project was promoted first online on facebook by creating a special page and promoting it on Comunitatea Noastra page as well as posts on our own profiles. The posts were then shared by local community members. We also printed promotional materials and we kept talking with everyone we met. We spoke with our colleagues, parents, neighbors, friends, librarians, and each got involved by making a donation, giving an advice or taking inspirational pictures which increased our confidence and our hopes. Also the NGO Comunitatea Noastra where we had been volunteers for over 2 years, supported us unconditionally, offered us resources and provided us with a space where we can work.
With how many people did you speak about the project?
- more than 100 people
What are you going to do to support the project in the future?
We relay a lot on the online interactions. We are connecting to relax by reading a book. In this way we want to keep our Facebook page as active as possible. We are planning to start reading club, set closer to the "nests". We also plan to go around local schools to speak with youth about the importance of reading, share opinions, critics and find out what books they would like to find in the free libraries.