Last month, an upside-down, yellow plastic tank perched atop a wooden frame made landing in Nolita. Just short of a UFO, the tank functions exactly as its title suggests: a temporary outdoor shelving unit that holds a little library—no library card necessary. The Little Free Library allows visitors to duck under a cover and peruse a mini-collection of books free for circulation. The clever design is temporarily “inhabitable” while maintaining the visitor’s “connection to the exterior.”
The library was built by Stereotank, a Venezuelan design firm, as part of a Little Free Library project for downtown Manhattan. Sponsored by the partnership of The Architectural League of New York and PEN World Voices Festival, the project will bring nine more “Little Free Libraries” to the city through September.
Coined by a Wisconsin non-profit in 2009, the Little Free Library is a worldwide community movement that provides free books to local communities through a book exchange model. Last June, New York City saw one of its first Little Free Libraries on St. Marks Ave in Prospect Heights. The city is not unfamiliar with the mini-library (see John Locke’s phone booth-turned-library), but the concept is now gaining unparalleled popularity. Here’s a map of Little Free Libraries across the world.