Donkey-drawn mobile libraries bring books to people in Zimbabwe

October 5, 2017 by  
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It’s not always easy for people in rural Zimbabwe to visit a library , so Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program (RLRDP) brings the library to them. Donkeys power their mobile libraries that can carry around 1,200 books . Out of the organization’s 15 donkey cart libraries, three are outfitted with solar panels that can power a computer. RLRDP founder Obadiah Moyo designed the donkey cart libraries and began trotting them out in 1995. The two-wheeled, roofed carts can carry up to three riders, and are separated into compartments that can lock up. Three donkey libraries have electricity from solar power for charging phones, printing, and accessing the Internet on a computer. The carts serve more than 1,600 people apiece, stopping at schools or community sites. 12 of the mobile libraries are devoted to children’s books . The organization has also facilitated 120 book delivery bicycles . Related: One-woman traveling bicycle library delivers free books in San Francisco Moyo said school pass rates have greatly improved since mobile libraries started bringing the books to rural areas. In a blog post for Book Aid International, he said O-Level pass rates at Inyathi Secondary School, that RLRDP supports, were six percent in 2009, but last year were 75 percent. Moyo said in the blog post, “We believe that to pull these rural communities out of poverty we need to surround children with books and knowledge, and give them the tools they need to improve their lives.” Financial contributions are often most helpful for RLRDP – Moyo says it costs around $150,000 a year to operate the organization. Books mainly come from charity Book Aid International , and RLRDP can get discounts from publishers. The organization would like to stock their donkey-powered libraries with more books written by Zimbabwean authors, especially ones in the languages of Ndebele or Shona. + Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program Via Literary Hub and Book Aid International Images via Book Aid International and Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program

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Donkey-drawn mobile libraries bring books to people in Zimbabwe

Green-roofed Albion Library in Toronto feels like an extension of your living room

August 31, 2017 by  
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It’s no surprise that the Albion Public Library is one of the busiest libraries in Toronto—its welcoming and light-filled atmosphere makes it feel like an extension of a cozy living room. Perkins+Will completed the new 29,000-square-foot library to serve the city’s Rexdale neighborhood, a diverse community with many immigrant families. The new building also incorporates innovative sustainable principles and includes a sloped green roof, energy-saving technologies, and stormwater management strategies. The Albion District Library is the culmination of numerous community workshops that informed the decision for a new-build, rather than a renovation of the existing building. The new facility was built on the underutilized parking lot so that the existing library could stay operable until construction competition, after which the old site was converted into a lush public plaza with a landscaped parking lot and space for a market square. The architects wrote: “The new parking lot will also be designed as a multi-use space, functioning as a parking lot during the day for normal operating hours and serving as a community event space for special occasions.” Related: World’s largest bookstore opens in Tehran, Iran The new library includes a Children’s Area, a Computer Learning Center, and a Digital Innovation + Maker Space with a 3D printer and Urban Living Room. The contemporary building catches the eye with its colorful polychrome terra-cotta screen and glazing that lets in ample natural light. Greenery is woven into the design, from the sloped green roof atop the building to the interior courtyard gardens and pavilions. The library was completed in 2016. + Perkins+Will Via ArchDaily Images via Perkins+Will

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Green-roofed Albion Library in Toronto feels like an extension of your living room

Worlds largest book store opens in Tehran, Iran

August 24, 2017 by  
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Book lovers, we’ve found your dream destination – the world’s largest bookstore just opened in Tehran, Iran . The Book Garden is a gigantic green-roofed building measuring 154,000 square feet that has 12 miles of shelves packed with millions of books . The project is part of a larger 700,000 square foot complex that features several movie theaters, science halls, classrooms, a prayer room and a restaurant. The Book Garden aims to encourage Iranian children to be “active and creative through modern methods and equipment,” said Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. “The opening of the Book Garden is a big cultural event in the country, so that our children can make better use of this cultural and academic opportunity,” added Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. Mehr News reports that the Book Garden was first pitched in 2004 to cater to fans of the city’s annual International Book Fair. After construction was completed last spring, organizers spent the past few months stocking the facility it with books. According to RealIran , there are more than 400,000 titles available for kids alone. One of the centers even has shorter shelves to ensure younger kids can reach the educational resources. Related: Chinese watermelon plant yields 131 fruit for Guinness World Record The Book Garden is now the biggest bookstore in the world, according to the Guinness World Records . Until now, Barnes & Noble along Fifth Avenue in New York City held the record. + Kayson Inc Via Mehr News , RealIran Photos via RealIran , Pixabay

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Worlds largest book store opens in Tehran, Iran

These wooden blocks can be stacked up to create cabins, treehouses, and wilderness shelters

July 31, 2017 by  
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Most cabins lie flat upon the earth – but Ofis Arhitekti just unveiled a wooden retreat that’s stacked up into the sky. The architects worked with C+C , C28 and AKT to create a beautiful library made from modular blocks at Ljubljana’s landmark medieval fortress. The basic modular unit provides accommodation for two people, with a kitchen, a bathroom, a bed and seating. If that isn’t enough space, the units can be stacked horizontally or vertically in order to form different configurations to accommodate a variety of locations and needs. Related: Three stacked spruce ‘shoeboxes’ reimagine a 1934 house in Ljubljana The units can be used as holiday cabins, tree houses, research units and shelters . The cabin can be fixed on the ground either by steel anchors or removable concrete cubes, making the interior space endlessly flexible and adjustable based on changing needs. The unit at Ljubljana Castle will serve as a temporary library, with each floor containing books on various topics. Spaces for reading and rest are tucked underneath the underpasses, and offer stunning views of the city. Both the structure and cladding promote Slovenian woodworking, traditional wood crafts and carpentry. + Ofis Arhitekti Photos by Janez Martincic  

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These wooden blocks can be stacked up to create cabins, treehouses, and wilderness shelters

Washington’s new Tukwila Library is topped with a carbon-negative green roof

June 27, 2017 by  
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Architecture firm Perkins+Will recently announced the completion of King County’s Tukwila Library – a 10,000-square-foot building inspired by the city’s diverse community where over 80 different languages are spoken. The new library showcases a variety of sustainable design strategies – including a green roof with a negative-carbon footprint. The building, built for the King County Library System, is located 20 minutes south of Seattle in Tukwila, Washington. A community-focused ‘mosaic space’ at the library’s center serves as a space for events, performances, contemplation, learning and reading. “In designing the new library , we were inspired by the city of Tukwila’s rich cultural diversity, and set out to create a welcoming space that both services and celebrates it,” said Ryan Bussard, design principal with Perkins+Will. Related: What Does the Interior of the World’s Largest and Most Expensive Family Home Look Like? The building’s facade features charcoal terra cotta, zinc cladding, aluminum sunshades and red- and purple-toned glass finishes, while large windows provide plenty of natural light for the interior spaces. Related: Perkins+Will’s LEED Platinum CTRB Sports a Prismatic Curtain Wall that Refracts Natural Light in Florida One of the building’s most exciting features is its roof, which is made of carbon-negative cross-laminated timber. This wood sequesters the same amount of carbon emitted by 91 cars in one year. Some of the roof is covered in a layer of heat- and drought-tolerant native plants that help regulate indoor temperatures while cutting stormwater runoff by more than 60 percent. + Perkins+Will

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Washington’s new Tukwila Library is topped with a carbon-negative green roof

Gulf of Mexicos dead zone in 2017 could be the largest on record

June 27, 2017 by  
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When humans abuse the environment and dump nitrate-and phosphorous-heavy pollutants into rivers, lakes, ponds and the sea, oxygen-deprived “dead zones” form. This is exactly what has occurred in the Gulf of Mexico and is leading to the formation of the world’s largest algae bloom on record. Roughly the size of Connecticut, the substantial “dead zone” should be a wake-up call for consumers to change their habits — hopefully before it is too late. Algae blooms , such as the one disrupting the ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico , upset the balance of the food chains in the region. With too many algae in the same area, an abnormal amount dies then sink to the seafloor, where the bacteria that break them down use substantial amounts of oxygen. This results in a huge drawdown of oceanic oxygen and ultimately results in a mass die-off of larger marine life. The occurrence is known as “hypoxia,” and it’s the reason the Gulf of Mexico is in the state it is. According to new research conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico is becoming progressively worse. In fact, it is now roughly the size of the state of Connecticut. Based on the agrochemical and wastewater runoff expected in the coming months, NOAA now predicts the dead zone will expand to encompass an area the size of New Jersey. To clarify, that is a 47 percent increase in just one year — and that’s a conservative estimate. Related: Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change According to The Washington Post , other researchers in Louisiana predict that the dead zone will actually increase to the size of Hawaii. If that happens, the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico will become the largest ever recorded. As IFLScience reports, these are only predictions at this present time. However, there is cause for concern, as scientists who set off on patrol boats to measure the size of the dead zone have been scarily accurate with their estimates. Whether the numbers are perfectly accurate or not, the persistent issue of pollution cannot be ignored. If humans fail to remedy their habits, continuing to live with little regard for the environment, environmental phenomenon worse than the present algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico will result. Via IFLScience Images via SEOS Project , Wikimedia

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Gulf of Mexicos dead zone in 2017 could be the largest on record

This tiny off-grid cabin in the UK is clad with reclaimed slate tiles

June 27, 2017 by  
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This rustic writer’s retreat in UK’s Snowdonia National Park is covered with local stone and slate tiles reclaimed from nearby farms. Architecture studio TRIAS based the Slate Cabin’s design around local and historically significant materials, with carefully arranged openings that capture small vignettes and views of the gorgeous hills and pastures of Wales. The cabin is set in a lush green valley surrounded by Snowdonia National Park. The structure has a simple, rectangular volume and muted exterior contrasted by the warm birch interior. The interior is bright and simple, with a single room for essential activities– sleeping, cooking, resting and relaxing– and a bathroom tucked behind. The bed sits up on a raised platform, and pulls back at one end to provide space for a seat and desk. Related: Trek-in prefab cabin offers luxury sustainable lodgings for campers The bed head does double duty to support a built-in seat and table. Stairs to the bed platform are a space to store books and shoes, while a shelf above the bathroom acts as a slot for stashing hiking packs. A continuous lantern of high windows bathe the space in natural light , while smaller openings offer curated views of the surrounding landscape. + TRIAS Via Uncrate Photos via Epic Retreats

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This tiny off-grid cabin in the UK is clad with reclaimed slate tiles

South Africas first Green Star museum is an eco-friendly literary treasure

June 27, 2017 by  
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One of South Africa’s literary treasures has transformed into an eco-friendly gem. Designed by Intsika Architects , the National English Literary Museum is the first five-star Green Star-certified Public & Education building in the country. Located in the university town of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, this eco-friendly museum meets impressive energy and water-saving targets, and also met social objectives through local job creation in construction. The 10,812-square-meter National English Literary Museum was completed in June 2016 for R145 million. Set with a park within a pedestrian-friendly area, the massive building is broken down into smaller elements, while selective massing responds to human scale. As a true community resource, the new library offers numerous public gathering spots and amenities such as a mini-theater, outdoor amphitheater , exhibition area, archives, library, and museum offices. Visual displays about the building’s sustainability initiatives teach visitors about the library’s water and energy savings, as well as green roof efficiency. To meet targets of reducing potable water consumption by more than 95% below benchmark, the library harvests and reuses rainwater from the roof for irrigation, toilet and urinal flushing; features xeriscaped indigenous landscaping to reduce irrigation needs; and installed water meters to monitor water consumption. Stormwater detention ponds capture and slowly release stormwater to prevent erosion in the river system. Daylighting is maximized indoors and a low-energy heat-recovery system provides cooling and heating simultaneously to different parts of the building. Where possible, materials were recycled and sourced locally, and include recycled rubber, recycled bamboo flooring, low-VOC paints, coconut mosaic wall cladding, and recycled plastic carpets. The green roof helps insulate the interior—the green-roofed archives tucked below ground don’t need air conditioning—and gabon walls and natural stone cladding used as thermal massing stabilize indoor temperatures. + Intsika Architects Images by Rob Duker

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South Africas first Green Star museum is an eco-friendly literary treasure

6 delightful tiny library designs from around the world

March 22, 2017 by  
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Children and adults can now check out books for free from tiny libraries in over 50,000 neighborhoods in 70 different countries. Some libraries are built with sustainable materials , some consider height differences between kids and grownups, while others are just plain fun. The organization behind these free exchanges, Little Free Library , recently held a Little Free Library Design Competition that drew an astonishing 300 designs from 40 countries. Check out the winners after the jump. Friendly Owlie library has eyes that glow at night Owls are commonly associated with wisdom. So an owl outline offered the perfect shape for Bartosz Bochynski’s tiny library, called Owlie. Bochynski, who is of design studio FUTUMATA in London , England, said Owlie could be constructed with affordable, sustainable materials and lit with LED lights . The friendly little library can hold around 40 tomes, some of which can be seen through the owl’s eyes which light up at night. Owlie was the judge’s choice in the competition. Related: Little Free Library: Tiny House-Shaped Boxes Let You Take a Book or Leave One Sleek little library with removable parts allows for easy customization Seth Thompson of San Francisco , California designed a little library designed for effortless rearranging. With a removable plexiglass door and shelves, the little library could accommodate a hanging flower planter, according to Thompson, and stewards can write on the door with dry-erase markers. Snøhetta San Francisco, one of the competition’s judges, described Thompson’s library as iconic, earning him the judge’s choice runner-up award. Flat-packed library is easy to assemble and includes a seat Chronicle Books , who partnered with Little Free Library for the competition, picked two winners, stipulating their choices had to weigh no more than 42 pounds, be able to be flat-packed , and be built with environmentally friendly materials. They picked Rachel Murdaugh and Clark Nexsen from Asheville, North Carolina as the winners. Nexsen and Murdaugh’s flat-packed library assembles simply and comes with instructions and hardware. It even includes a seat so patrons can peruse books before checking them out. Geometrical library assembles with just a hammer and screwdriver Lea Randebrock of Lahti, Finland nabbed the runner-up prize from Chronicle Books with this flat-packed library than can be set up onsite with a screwdriver and hammer. Randebrock said the design is intended for serial production, allowing for more tiny libraries. The Chronicle Books team noted they loved the surprise shelving inside the modern little library. Earthy Tree of Knowledge draws inspiration from nature The Little Free Library staff and founder also chose a winner and runner-up, with the help of votes from the whole Little Free Library community. Ryo Otsuka and Lin Zihao of CIRCLE in Tokyo, Japan claimed the prize with their nature -inspired Tree of Knowledge. They said they aimed to emphasize the origins of paper, a primary element of books , in their tree design. Little library in Ohio transforms into community center The 4th Street Farms Little Free Library is more than just a design concept; it’s already a fixture of its Columbus, Ohio neighborhood and has morphed into a mini community center offering a Little Food Pantry alongside books. Mural elements from local artists adorn the library, and varying shelf heights allow patrons of all ages to explore offerings. Motion sensor lighting brightens the space day or night. Nine honorable mentions include designs from Germany, China, Italy, and Ireland, to name a few. They include one shaped like a big chunk of cheese, one designed for beach use, and one inside a floating pavilion. Flip through Inhabitat’s gallery to see more of the clever designs! + Little Free Library Via Chronicle Books Images courtesy of Little Free Library

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World’s first library of ice in Siberia is filled with crowd-sourced content

February 10, 2017 by  
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Although most people look for a cozy warm corner to curl up with a good book, a Russian town has opened the world’s first outdoor ice library , filled with crowd-sourced content. Located on the edge of the frozen Lake Baikal in Baikalsk, (southern Siberia), the magical “ice library of wonders” is made up of 200 tons of ice blocks molded into a labyrinth with short phrases etched into the walls. https://youtu.be/_EWAkuc3QwQ The project was a creative idea by the local tourism bureau, “Last year we announced we would create the Ice Library of Wonders, and asked people to send us their dreams and wishes.” local tourism head and ice librarian Maxim Khvostishkov told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. Soon, the project began receiving quotes from people from all over the world. To date, over 1,000 phrases have been carved into the ice structure ‘s 420 “books” in various languages, English, Chinese, Korean, etc. Related: Sweden’s new ICEHOTEL 365 uses solar cooling to stay open all year-round Although the ice structure is a beautiful statement of community-sourced literature, unfortunately, the engraved words will soon be a thing of the past. The ice library is expected to last until April when Lake Baikal normally begins to thaw. If you’d like to be a part of the library’s short-lived history, you can send in your wish to be engraved by using this link (in Russian) up until Feb. 28. Via NBC Bay Area Images via MACTC  

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