About the Uni Project
The Uni Project is a nonprofit committed to increasing access to books and learning opportunities through pop-up, open-air reading rooms. Based in New York City, we operate reading rooms that bring custom-designed structures, high quality books, and dedicated staff, to the city’s plazas, parks, and public spaces. We partner with community-based organizations, and we prioritize underserved neighborhoods. We also send kits around the world so that others can copy our model.
The first Uni reading room was launched via a crowd-funding campaign and put into service on September 11, 2011. Since then, the project has deployed pop-up reading rooms more than 200 times in New York City, serving thousands of patrons and being observed by thousands more in passing. We’ve worked together with over 25 different neighborhood groups, and partnered with the Brooklyn, Queens, and New York public libraries. We’ve expanded our collection in partnership with museums such as New York Hall of Science and MoMA. We’ve also shipped other Uni reading rooms around the world.
The Uni has been hailed as a “groundbreaking idea” by Library Journal, and in 2013 was awarded an Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation. In 2014, the Uni was a winner of the Mayor of Boston’s Public Space Invitational, leading to a portable open-air reading room for Boston.
The Uni Project is the work of Street Lab, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded and run by Leslie and Sam Davol. Street Lab created a range of programs for public space in downtown Boston from 2006-2010 and is now based in New York.