article-imagePop-up library on Governors Island (all photographs by the author unless indicated)

To bring books and a curiosity in learning out of the libraries and into the summer sun, the Uni Project has installed a pop-up library on Governors Island in the New York Harbor. The installation is in collaboration with the New York Public Library, the Queens Library, and the Brooklyn Library, and it isn’t their only biblio-intervention in New York City.

article-imageThe pop-up library in Kazakhstan (via The Uni Project)

You can often find the compact Uni libraries installed in public spaces all over the five boroughs, wherever there’s an open space and a void of books. For example, after Hurricane Sandy a Uni library was installed in Red Hook and later the Rockaways. The Uni Project even made a stop in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2012. Out on Governors Island, visitors are able to take a book for their island stay from one of the stacked cubes.


Many of the cubes on the roaming libraries have been curated by different institutions or educators, with not just books, but games, multimedia, and even one with a first aid kit (just in case). The New York Hall of Science organized a cube with science related texts, and the Louis Armstrong House Museum oversaw a small grouping on music. There’s also one by 826NYC, home of the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., complete with a jug of time travel solution and a can of antimatter, and Furnace Press has focused their cube on the overlooked and neglected history and places of New York. (You can check out all the cubes here)


The Uni on Governors Island is all about the public libraries, though, and offers a little reading corner on the decommissioned military island, just steps from an old fortification and with a view to the Manhattan skyscrapers across the water. In other words, an ideal place to pause with a book. 

You can find all the current Uni library locales on their website.