Outdoor Libraries

This project promotes reading and the pleasure of reading literature in children, teenagers and young people. It was designed and launched by children in Primary School No. 16 (called Vicente López y Planes) in San Miguel del Monte, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Students from first to sixth grade, practically the whole school, actively participated in this project although the project itself was conceived in the language and literature area. What is peculiar about this experience is that the library that the children are proposing is neither a school library nor an ordinary and traditional one; it is a neighbourhood outdoor library. The library is set up in parks and squares in different neighbourhoods and the books are kept in fridges that are no longer in use.

The students at this school have planned this project so as to promote reading in public places, squares, parks, neighbourhood centres, hospital waiting rooms, etc. The initiative came from the children themselves, given the fact that there is a book fair held at the institution every year.

The aim of the project is to enjoy reading and, at the same time, the project was conceived because there are very few books in the school library and there is only one neighbourhood library in the area, which charges a fee to become a member.

The fridges used as bookcases are provided by a neighbour who repairs household appliances. The children receive the fridges without any hazardous compounds: oils and other substances are extracted by the specialist who donates them, so by the time they are in the children’s hands they do not represent any danger to their health.

Students put these “fridge-bookcases” together: they draw on them and colour them, adding a touch of art and colour to the fridges, and they prepare them for installation.

To know how many fridges to place in the area, the students carried out field work and checked the number of parks and public footpaths. At the same time, they identified strategic places to locate the fridges. The main idea is to provide all these spaces with a "fridge-library" and that the proposal be multiplied and be massive.

They also interviewed members of the community to find out what types of books they would look for in the library: they inquired about tastes and genres. Then, they worked in literature selection criteria with their teachers and they were trained in bookbinding and book restoration. In order to set up several "fridge-libraries" they organized a campaign to donate books in the community. To make it known to the public, they wrote letters of request, designed and made posters and brochures of different types, and organized a subsequent door-to-door collection of the donated books.

In each one of the “fridge-libraries” installed in the different public places, the students put on a sign that reads: “Take me, enjoy me, give me back and donate one”.

This school is a finalist in the Presidential Prize “Solidary Schools 2018¨ awarded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and Technology of the Argentine Republic.