Here are a few snapshots of the Uni portable reading room in New York City. Also, plenty more on social media…







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The Uni Portable Reading Room in New York City, 2014

The Uni Portable Reading Room in New York City, 2014

The Uni Portable Reading Room in New York City, 2014






The Uni portable reading room. Ozone Park Plaza. 2014.

The Uni Portable Reading Room in New York City, 2014.


























Photo galleries

We create a blog post and photo gallery for many deployments of the Uni. You can see them all here. Or scroll down, to see a selection of our favorites…

Parkside Plaza, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens/North Flatbush (Brooklyn).
November 23, 2014.

The Uni landed on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Parkside Avenue in Brooklyn to be part of an event organized by local residents to help envision the possibilities of a new DOT pedestrian plaza coming to this stretch of sidewalk in front of the Parkside Q train station. Our participation was made possible by funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation through the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.npp_200x100

Washington Square Park (Manhattan). November 19, 2014.

The Uni Project teamed up with some wonderful friends of ours, Daniel Handler, Neil Gaiman, and the folks at National Book Foundation, to create our coldest reading room yet! In fact, it was simply too cold to create the reading room we all envisioned for Washington Square Park: a browsable selection of National Book Award finalists. Instead, it was decided (wisely) that Daniel and Neil would have a friendly competition to see who could give away those same books to the public…see what happened.

Zion Plaza, Brownsville (Brooklyn). October 31, 2014.

On Halloween, the Uni returned to Brownsville, Brooklyn to join a Halloween Festival organized by Pitkin Avenue BID. We set up on Zion Plaza at Pitkin and East New York Ave, where kids in costume and families gathered after a parade.

Our participation was made possible in part by Penguin Random House and funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation through the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.

npp_200x100Penguin Random House Company

NYC Play Streets, citywide. July – August 2014, weekdays.

Last year, the Uni Project served ten Play Streets with support from Transportation Alternatives. This year we served nearly 40! During July and August, the Uni provided a reading room for kids at NYC play streets organized by Harvest Home, an organization providing healthy food at farmers’ markets to low income communities. Funding for the Uni at play streets was generously provided by the Shippy Foundation and Target.

Jul 15, 22, 29, Aug 5, 12, 19, 26: Harvest Home’s West Harlem Play Street (Manhattan). W 136th St.
Jul 16, 23, 30, Aug 6, 13, 20, 27: Harvest Home’s Forest Avenue Play Street (South Bronx). 156th & Westchester Ave.
Jul 10, 17, 24, 31, Aug 4, 11, 14, 21, 28: Harvest Home’s East Harlem Play Street (Manhattan). E 104th St at 3rd Ave.
Jul 11, 18, 25, Aug 1, 8, 15: Harvest Home’s Rivera Avenue Play Street, Concourse (Bronx). McClellan St at Rivera Ave.
July 29-Aug 15: Jennings St Play Street at Prospect Ave, Morrisania (Bronx).
Aug 8: Irving Place Play Street at Fulton St (Brooklyn).


Governors Island, New York Harbor. June – August 2014, weekends.

For the second year in a row, the Uni Project partnered with the Brooklyn Public Library, the New York Public Library, and the Queens Library to offer an open-air reading room on Governors Island. Known as Library Lawn, this library offered grass, shade, and stunning views of New York Harbor. The Uni Project provided the reading room infrastructure, while the three libraries provided staff and books. Visitors borrowed books for use on the island, registered for library cards, and signed up for summer reading. The BPL also hosted a series of storytelling, performances, and music workshops.

Fulton St Plazas. (Brooklyn)

All summer, the Uni reading room visited two pedestrian plazas along Fulton Street in Brooklyn as part of FAB Friday events, sponsored by Fulton Area Business Alliance. Our participation was made possible in part by a grant from Tribeca Pediatrics’ We Care for Your Kids Foundation.

Apr 25, Jun 13, Aug 8: Putnam Triangle, Clinton Hill
May 16, Jul 11, Sep 5: Fowler Square, Fort Greene

Brooklyn Bridge Park

The Uni enjoyed a summer-long residency in Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2014. Every Sunday, we offered a staffed outdoor reading room on Pier 6 as part of the park’s Pier Kids events. The residency was made possible by a new reading room kit funded by long-time Uni Project supporters, Leaves of Grass Fund.

June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; July 6, 13, 20, 27; August 3.


Ozone Park Plaza, Ozone Park (Queens). Aug 7, 2014.

See photos of the Uni reading room in the evening! The Uni returned to the new Ozone Park pedestrian plaza at the intersection of Liberty Ave and 101st Avenue to be part of a series of Family Nights organized by the Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services Corporation (BACDYS). Our partner for this event was the Ozone Park branch of the Queens Library. Our participation was made possible by funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation through the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.


Corona Plaza (Queens). Jun 7, Jun 28, Jul 26, 2014.

The Uni returned three times to Corona Plaza (June 7, June 28, July 26), a location we’re honored to have been many times before, to be part of a regular series of plaza activities benefitting the local community organized by the Queens Museum.

These public reading rooms were made possible in part by funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation through the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership and Penguin Random House.

npp_200x100Penguin Random House Companyqm_100x100

Bliss Plaza, Sunnyside (Queens). Jul 26, 2014.

The Uni joined the first of two Sunnyside Summer Strolls, sponsored by Sunnyside Shines to activate this newly-minted plaza under the 7 train.

Our partner was the Queens Library’s Sunnyside branch, and our participation was made possible in part by funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation through Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.


Launch of Boston Uni Reading Room with Mayor Marty Walsh. Jun 19, 2014.

BOS logoOn Saturday, July 19, we were honored to launch a Uni portable reading room for Boston with help from Mayor Martin J. Walsh on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

The Uni was the first winner of the Mayor’s 2014 Public Space Invitational to launch, and we were able to do so thanks to sponsor Robert Half, Howeler + Yoon Architecture, and partners Boston Public Library and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Special thanks to new Uni volunteers from Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences, and to all of the friends and supporters who came out.

More press and information about the Boston Uni is here. Leslie was also interviewed by Mayor Walsh—see the video here. Keep an eye out for more dates and details on the Greenway’s website.

Bronx Summer Fest and DJ Herc Block Party, Louis Niñé Blvd, Bronx.
Jun 21, 2014.

On a summer evening in the Bronx, the Uni Project made a place for reading and learning at a community hip hop concert. The concert honored Bronx living legend/hip hop founding father, DJ Kool Herc, and later on in the evening Kool Herc himself took over the turntables. The event was sponsored by the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation and presented by The Bronx Music Heritage Center as part of Make Music NY. The Uni has been on this block, back in 2013. Our participation was made possible in part by support from Penguin Random House.

whedco_200x100Penguin Random House Company


Zion Triangle/Pitkin Ave, Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Jun 15, Jun 22, Jun 27, 2014.

The Uni returned three times to Brownsville, Brooklyn to create a open-air reading room for kids and families in partnership with Pitkin Avenue BID. Take a look back at photos from June and 2013 or see the latest from 2014.

This event was part of Summer Plazas and our participation was made possible in part by funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation through the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership and Penguin Random House. In partnership with Brooklyn Public Library.

npp_200x100Penguin Random House Company

Tompkins Square Park, East Village. May 28, 30.
Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village. May 29.

On three dates this spring, we worked with middle school-aged boys from George Jackson Academy and The Boys Club of New York to transform two prominent locations in the Village (Manhattan) into places to gather around books and learning. These open-air reading rooms were made possible by a grant from the Project for the Advancement of Our Common Humanity (PACH) at NYU. The boys read aloud their own poems and short essays about family for the public.


Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island (East River, NYC).
May 10-11, 2014.

We were honored to bring the Uni reading room to the stunning FDR Four Freedoms Park on Mother’s Day weekend, to give park visitors a reading room experience. The park is a memorial to President Roosevelt, designed by the architect Louis I. Kahn, celebrating Roosevelt’s famous January 6, 1941 State of the Union speech which envisioned a world founded upon what FDR recognized to be four, human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Our host for the weekend was the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy.

FDR Logo

Rockefeller Park, Battery Park City (Manhattan). May 3, 2014.

To help celebrate the accomplishments of NYC middle-schoolers in the National Book Foundation’s after-school program called BookUp, the Uni reading room set up in Rockefeller Park where the kids had a picnic and shared readings and conversation with poet Willie Perdomo. Besides the BookUp program, the NationalBook Foundation also awards the annual Innovations in Reading Prize, of which the Uni was a winner in 2013.

Bookup logo


Nov 21+22, 2013: Talking Transition Tent, Lower Manhattan.

tt-200 This week, the Uni Project brought our reading room cart to the Talking Transitions tent in Lower Manhattan, where New Yorkers convened to discuss the Mayoral transition and the future of the city. This historic public forum was initiated by the Open Society Foundation and funded by a coalition of leading foundations. Although not organized by the DeBlasio campaign, the Mayor-Elect visited the tent and paid tribute to this remarkable effort to inject campaign-level energy into transition issues. This vibrant and engaging civic space (with beer!) allowed people to gather, share, listen, and learn. Following, the space was returned to being a vacant lot, but the city will be permanently changed. In a small way, that’s exactly what we aim to do with a pop-up reading room. Read more.

national book foundation

Nov 20, 2013: 64th National Book Awards Dinner and Ceremony, special appearance.

Nov 2, 2013: Corona Plaza with Queens Museum.

Queens Musuem The Uni returned to Corona for the tenth time with our partner Queens Museum. For the first time, the Uni served two neighborhoods simultaneously. We could not have done it without veteran librarians, Stephanie Yee and Emily Jacobson—thanks! Read more.

Nov 2, 2013: Liberty Ave Plaza with Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Service.

bacdys_sq_125The Uni made a special appearance at the ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of a new pedestrianized plaza at the intersection of Liberty Ave and 101st Ave in Ozone Park. The new plaza will draw the community together. As Leslie said in her remarks, plazas are more than physical spaces, they are symbolic centers. They are places where residents can express shared values, like a love of reading and education. Read more.


Oct 26, 2013: Pitkin Plaza, Brownsville, Brooklyn, with the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District.

Pitkin Ave LogoThe Uni returned to Brownsville, Brooklyn, to create a open-air reading room for hundreds of kids and families. Thank you to our partner, Pitkin Avenue BID, and some terrific local volunteers who helped with the installation. Read more.


Sep 27, 2013: Putnam Triangle, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

FABThe Uni returned to Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, in support of the Fulton Area Business Alliance’s effort to nurture newly-pedestrianized plazas. Our location will be Putnam Triangle Plaza, and folks donated used books at the Uni to support the Brooklyn Public Library. Read more.

Sep 15, 2013: Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, NY

MSBID The Uni appeared at Summer Space, Montague Street’s annual Weekend Walk event hosted by Montague St BID.  Andrew Collins, science educator and frequent Uni contributor stopped by to help explore insects under the Uni microscope. Jon Manbeck, former Brooklyn Borough Historian, came by and donated one of his books to the Uni collection. Read more.

Sep 14, 2013: Corona Plaza with Queens Museum

qma The Uni returned to Corona for an eighth time. Partner: Queens Museum of Art. In Corona, the Uni Project is evaluating how a steady, persistent approach to programming the plaza with books is received. The short answer: Corona tops nearly every metric we record, including the number of patrons per hour, number of children, stay times, and number of families reading together. Corona loves reading and reading together. Photos.

Transportation Alternatives logo

Aug 20, 2013: West 137th St Play Street, West Harlem.

Harvest HomeThe Uni returned to this West Harlem playstreet, which is one of several run by the nonprofit organization Harvest Home, which also runs weekly farmers’ markets. Our partner was Transportation Alternatives. Read more.

Aug 16, 2013: Kingsbridge Heights Bronx, NY

KHCCThe Play Street run by the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center is perched on a hill, in the heart of the neighborhood, in front of the familiar red doors of the community center. KHCC has woven together a mix—a Grow NYC Youth market, exercise, dance, yoga, lunch—to create a safe, healthy, positive place to gather. Today, we added reading. Our partner was Transportation Alternatives. Read more.


Aug 14, 2013: Lyman Place Play Street, Morrisania, Bronx.

The Uni returned for a second time to this long-running play street. Our partner was Transportation Alternatives. Read more. Transportation Alternatives logo

Jul 25, 2013: Harvest Home’s East 104th St Play Street in East Harlem, Manhattan.

La Casa AzulThe Uni went to this East Harlem playstreet, which is one of several run by the nonprofit organization Harvest Home, which also runs weekly farmers’ markets. Our partners also included Transportation Alternatives, La Casa Azul Bookstore, and NYPL. Read more.

July 13: Corona Plaza, Corona, Queens with Queens Museum of Art.

The Uni returned to Corona Plaza, Queens, for the seventh time, to continue to give books and learning a presence in this important emerging community space. Take a look back at Corona deployments in May 2013, and summer 2012. Or read more about this most recent outing.

June 23, 2013: Pitkin Avenue, Brownsville, Brooklyn, hosted by the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District.

On Sunday, June 23, the Uni was part of another DOT Weekend Walk, this time on Pitkin Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn, at an event called Summer Plazas organized by the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District. This was a classic neighborhood block party, complete with BBQ and an open sprinkler. Thanks to Toni Diaz and Dan Murphy for inviting us. Thanks to Uni volunteers William Brockett, Eleanor Davol, and Malcolm Davol, and Uni installer Peter Zweifel.

June 2, 2013: Mott Street below Canal, Chinatown, Manhattan, hosted by the Chinatown Partnership.

The Uni visited NYC Chinatown this weekend, as part of an event sponsored by the Chinatown Partnership that turned Mott Street in this dense, historic neighborhood into a pedestrian zone below Canal street. Our pop-up community work began as residents of Boston’s Chinatown, so this was a return of sorts, and we ran into good friends from both Chinatown communities, Boston and New York. Read more.

May 29, 2013: Clement Clarke Moore Park, Chelsea, Manhattan

The Uni added books and learning to this historic, well-loved park in the heart of West Chelsea. This deployment of the Uni was planned in partnership with students at the nearby Avenues: The World School, and it involved the participation of many other Chelsea organizations and institutions, including nearby PS 11, the Guardian Angel School, Hudson Guild, and the High Line. Read more and see photos here.

May 9, 2013: Clark Playground, South Bronx.

The Uni deployed to a playground adjacent to MS 223 and Clark Junior High School in the South Bronx (Third Ave and E144th St) in support of MS 223’s Community Reads Night, a weekly event designed to encourage everybody in the community to read. We chose a paved area just outside the playground where we could catch the eye of the students after school and also attract people on the busy street. The Uni was warmly welcomed and quickly drew a crowd. One man reported, “I’ve lived here 25 years and never have I seen anything like this. This is great.” Thanks to volunteer librarian Emily, and to Literacy Coach Heather Burns and Principal Ramón Gonzales of MS 223, for spreading the word about the Uni in the community!

November 2012: Red Hook, Brooklyn.

The Uni went to Coffey Park in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to serve a waterfront community still struggling after Hurricane Sandy. We set up between FEMA and the food trucks, across the street from a mobile clinic. And we went in partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library—BPL staff did the advance work for our visit as part of their own efforts to serve Red Hook via their branches and bookmobiles. The hero of the day was Robert Berkman, a math educator who created a street math cube for the Uni—he came for the entire afternoon and dazzled us with math games. Thanks to Uni volunteer Leigh Hurwitz, Eleanor and Malcolm Davol, and some outstanding, local kids who donned librarian lanyards and helped strike the Uni in the evening. Photos here.

July 2012: Corona, Queens.

The Uni went to Corona on July 29 and transformed a part of Corona Plaza near the 7 train’s 103rd St station into a reading room all day. We were invited here by the Queens Museum of Art to support the New York City Department of Transportation and other local organizations in transforming the area into a vibrant open space for residents as part of NYC DOT’s Plaza Program. Thank you to today’s special partners: Queens Library and the Louis Armstrong House Museum. Thank you Uni volunteers: Allie Janvey, Meghan Dowell, Stephanie Yee, and Christine O’Heron. Thank you installers: Evan Bender and Nelson DeJesus. Photos here.


September 2011: Seaport, Lower Manhattan.

The Uni was put into service for the first time on Sunday, Sep. 11 at the New Amsterdam Market on the East River in Lower Manhattan.  Read more about our decision to launch a reading room at this location.

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