A partnership of community organizations is working together to initiate a temporary storefront library space in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood, which has not had a library since 1956. For a period of approximately three months, the Chinatown Storefront Library will convert one of Chinatown’s many vacant commercial spaces into a temporary installation featuring elements of a public library. The project seeks to draw attention to community needs, provide a forum for Chinatown residents and local officials to envision a permanent library in the neighborhood, draw foot-traffic to local businesses, promote Chinatown as a cultural and civic destination, and demonstrate community capacity for mobilizing resources.
The Storefront Library will provide periodicals, computer and internet access, workspace, printer access, a children’s reading area, a free book exchange, a community bulletin board, and a space for gatherings. The temporary installation will be designed by students and architects from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. The design will seek to create modular, reconfigurable, elements that can be disassembled, reassembled and reused in another space, and which will have a minimal impact on the storefront space.
The Storefront Library will help advance and shape future efforts to secure a permanent branch library in Chinatown. The project partners hope it will heighten demand for a branch library by creating a renewed sense absence when the project ends.
Project partners include Boston Street Lab, a nonprofit producer of temporary programs and installations in downtown Boston; the Department of Micro-Urbanism, an art and design initiative at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design; the Chinese Progressive Association, a community organization working for equality and empowerment of Boston’s Chinese community; Friends of the Chinatown Library, a campaign to bring a library branch to Boston’s Chinatown; the Asian Community Development Corporation; and Social Change and Activism, a group within Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.