Day #005: Little free sports libraries

Take a basketball, return a frisbee .

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here and the intro here.

  • Idea: A sports equipment lending library in every park.
  • Difficulty: 1 — The set-up cost is minimal, and the project is self-perpetuating. That’s the ultimate win-win when providing public services: instantly rewarding for a low cost and no future financial obligations.

Anyone who’s strolled down West Avenue recently may have noticed a Little Free Library. Found in over twenty countries and forty states (with a bunch in the Richmond area), these simple waterproof boxes encourage reading and have one instruction: take a book, return a book.

This idea is incredible and simple, and I have never seen the “library” less than absolutely stuffed–so why stop at books? What if we extended this idea to public parks?

Take the Holly Street Park in Oregon Hill. The James River Park System could reclaim an old phone booth, cover it with murals, and put it at the bottom of the concrete ramp leading to the fields. Inside: basketballs, footballs, dodgeballs, frisbees, and jump ropes left by families who have upgraded or leftovers from the VCU Rec Center. A handy pump for the balls could also be tucked inside. Finally, a simple inscription: take a basketball, return a frisbee.

“Little free sports libraries” would be a very low cost way to provide a great public service. The boxes would be the largest cost, but there’s also plenty of room for creative ideas. Phone booths are near useless and could be repurposed. Old gutted vending machines could also do the job. Imagination is the only limitation.

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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