READ NYC is the Uni Project’s original program for the streets of New York City, giving people access to curated collections of books and a place to read together in public. Our collection is designed for all ages. Here’s what happens: some people read for very short amounts of time, others for much longer. People read alone or together. Some children are read to by Uni Project staff and volunteers, or by other children. Sharing books leads to conversations. See where we go. The Uni Project READ cart

Program elements:

A custom-designed cart that rolls into place and unfolds to reveal books, with benches for seating. (Our first reading room relied on a system of cubes, and that structure is still in use. See Design.)

High-quality books (300+ in each cart), drawn from the Uni Project’s collection and curated for each location. Books in the Uni don’t circulate. We’re not a book swap, and we’re not a lending library. The point is not to take books home and read in private. We want people to read them together, in public, and be seen reading. That’s why we choose books that work well for browsing: short fiction, art books, poetry, and lots of picture books. And because we watch over the books, we offer high-quality, unusual, and even fragile books, like pop-up titles. The Uni Project readersWe want to put out what you wouldn’t expect in public space. And we find that a little trust goes a long way with our patrons. To be engaging, some of the collection is also organized into a series of mini-collections curated by individuals or organizations who have a real passion or expertise about a topic. Explore our collection.

The Uni Project book reviewsMini book reviews, created by fellow New Yorkers. You can write a mini book review and post it on the side of the READ cart. Book reviewers take home instant photos of themselves holding their favorite book at the Uni.

Participation by local libraries and other NYC organizations and institutions, featuring books and other material that has either been donated or loaned for the day.

Uni staff and volunteers to facilitate and read aloud, as needed.


Acknowledgments Carts for READ NYC have been funded by donations from individuals and grants from foundations. Books have either been purchased by the Uni Project or donated by individuals, publishers, and institutions.

How you can help Your support helps us take READ NYC to New York neighborhoods. Make a donation here. Or, donate books. Visit our wish list at Strand Bookstore. We love bilingual and international titles. We also accept used books in the categories above. Uni Book Donation Policy. Contact Leslie Davol.

The Uni Project reader

The Uni Project READ

The Uni Project READ

READ NYC is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Susanne Beck and Billy Parker, Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown, Leaves of Grass Fund, Sam and Esme Lee, Karen and Daniel Taylor

We're getting a "new" name... Street Lab.

The Uni Project is the work of Street Lab, a nonprofit launched in 2006 in Boston, where we created community-oriented programs for public space. In 2011, we migrated Street Lab to New York City and launched the Uni Project. The Uni began as a single, portable reading room and has since grown into a city-wide initiative offering more than 700 days of pop-up programming in 150+ public spaces across the city. In 2019, we are re-introducing our original name Street Lab to tie all this work together going forward, with much more to come.

For now, details about our programs are available here on the Uni Project web site. Soon, that content will move to Thanks for sticking with us!