Volunteering With the Uni Project

What to Expect When You Volunteer With the Uni

Now that you’ve decided to volunteer with the Uni, here’s what your day with us will look like:

Look for an attractive, architect-designed cart, filled with 300+ books for browsing and reading, drawn from the Uni Project’s collection and curated for each location. For example, in Sarah D. Roosevelt Park in Chinatown, the reading room has included books in Chinese alongside books in English, as well as books on Chinese American artists, the history of Chinatown, and the Chinese-American experience. All locations include a robust collection of children’s picture books, books about art, NYC, and animals, as well as poetry and literature. Some of the collection is also organized into mini-collections curated by local cultural organizations or bookstores. Portable benches provide a place to sit.

When you arrive, our Uni Staff Members will already be on the scene with our carts, benches, and books set up. You’ll see some people reading, either alone or together.

How do I spot a Uni staff member?

Look for someone with a name tag, probably chatting with folks on the street or reading to children.

Why volunteer?

Our Staff Members are superstars, but we could always use more help!

How do I help?

  • Greet people and let them know they are welcome to have a seat and read with the Uni. People are transformed into readers on a kind of stage, and feel good—even proud—while reading in public.
  • Engage with kids and adults by reading to them, drawing with them, and talking with them. The Uni is about learning and sharing books, which leads to conversations and the discovery of common interests.
  • Answer questions about what the Uni is and what we’re doing that day. Passersby will register that NYC is a city with a thriving reading culture and recognize the potential in all New Yorkers.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for any books out of place, a tidy bookshelf makes for an inviting environment.
  • Sit down and enjoy our books yourself.
  • Last, but not least, HAVE FUN!

Do I need to bring anything?

  • Bring a water bottle for hot days
  • Dress accordingly. New York weather can be funny, so know when to bring that trusty jacket.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Bring a snack.

Keep an eye on the weather, and we’ll be in touch if an event is postponed. Some locations are crowded, and some are not. You can help simply by sitting down and reading, which in turn draws more people.

Contact Leah with any questions…or snack recommendations. See you on the street!

Uni Staff and Volunteers

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The Uni Project is the operating name (DBA) of Street Lab, a 501c3 nonprofit.