Rashard Baker gets some book suggestions from U-M lecturer Melanie Manos outside the closed Richard branch of the Detroit Public Library on Thursday. An outdoor library offered something interesting for him to read during spring break. / MANDI WRIGHT/Detroit Free Press
Back in December The Detroit Public Library Commission voted to close four branches.
One way to get books back into a library-deprived community is to take matters into your own hands. And that is exactly what a class of fourth-graders at Marcus Garvey Academy in Detroit did when they collaborated with Melanie Manos, a lecturer at University of Michigan who came up with an idea for outdoor libraries as a project for her art & design students.
Manos says "the project is an attempt to draw attention to the library closings and give back to the community." She went on to say "It broke my heart to hear about the library closings, which are such a vital part of every community,...Ever since I was a child, I've loved visiting the library. I always regarded it as a sacred space and I think it would be a shame to deny any children the opportunity to read."
Working closely with the fourth-graders, Manos' students painted colorful banners and helped build waterproof bookcases for the outdoor libraries. Book donations began being accepted and before long the makings of six outdoor libraries for use by the general public where in place.
The libraries work on the honor system, there are no library cards, and they also accept donations at each location.
This sounds like a great opportunity for the Occupy Wall Street folks to create a national network of community-supported outdoor libraries to replace the libraries that have closed due to the financial collapse.