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Polish Themes in Little Free Libraries in North Brooklyn

In early June, residents of North Brooklyn will be able to enjoy Little Free Libraries. They will be filled with books that include those about Poland’s history, culture and famous people. Among the titles that will be available: “Who Was Marie Curie?”, “The Zookeeper’s Wife”, “Irena’s Children: Young Readers Edition; A True Story of Courage”, “The Glass Mountain: Tales from Poland”, as well as “Soldier Bear” and “The Dragon of Krakow and other Polish Stories.”

Little Free Libraries – Book Exchanges are already available in Brooklyn and other places across the U.S. They are an easy way to promote readership in the local community. The idea to introduce the little libraries in North Brooklyn was taken up by a Polish historical society, the Pilsudski Institute. The project is funded by Poland’s Foreign Ministry, and supported by the Consulate General of Poland, Department of Education District 14, and the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design.

Starting from early June, the Little Free Libraries will be available at local schools: PS 34, IS 318, MS 577, at the Pilsudski Institute located on Greenpoint Avenue, and at the Polish-Slavic Federal Credit Union at 100 McGuinness Blvd. in Greenpoint. Readers will be able to borrow any book they want, and they will also be able to exchange books by donating books they want other people to read. “This initiative builds connections among people. It enhances the transfer of knowledge and at the same time educates the local community about the culture of our country,” said Iwona Korga, Ph.D., executive director of the Pilsudski Institute, who was encouraged to launch the project by Alicja Winnicki, District 14 superintendent.

The wooden libraries were assembled on May 10 at the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design. The students of the school teamed up with their younger peers from PS 34, IS 318 and MS 577 to build and paint the wooden boxes. They were all accompanied by representatives from institutions organizing the initiative and from local politicians’ offices.

“This initiative engaged our whole local community: students, teachers, principals and local leaders. Everyone supported our idea of spreading the word about the Polish roots and getting to know one another,” said Ms. Winnicki. She pointed out that not only could younger students learn assembly techniques from their older peers from Williamsburg HS for Architecture and Design, but everyone also had a chance to learn something about Poland from a talk given by Iwona Korga Ph.D.

“The project gave our students a chance to use their practical skills and knowledge and mentor the younger students while assembling the book boxes,” said Gill Cornell, principal of the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design. The high school students will also deliver the little libraries to their respective sites and read excerpts from the books during the inauguration of the Little Free Libraries.

“Thanks to this initiative, residents of North Brooklyn will have a chance to learn about Polish culture and such important individuals like Irena Sendlerowa, Maria Skłodowska-Curie, Witold Pilecki and the famous Bear Wojtek,” said consul Mateusz Gmura who also said he was glad to see interest from local politicians and school authorities in the project.

“This is a great program. I want to thank all involved, including the students from PS 34, IS 318, MS 577 and the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design for their participation in the project,” said Assemblyman Joseph Lentol.

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