WHERE: Almaty, Kazakhstan
In 2012, The Uni Project fabricated and shipped a full scale, 120-cube Uni structure with a custom cover system and 40 benches to Almaty, Kazakhstan. That Uni was used to create an outdoor reading room in prominent, outdoor public spaces in Almaty during summer and fall. The Uni season was then extended through the winter at a mall and the Almaty International Airport. To this day, Uni Almaty continues to explore locations across the city.
The Uni in Almaty is a collaboration between the US Consulate in Almaty and the Children’s Library of Almaty. The Uni’s collection of books in Russian, English and Kazakh comes from the Children’s Library’s own shelves, and from donations by the US Consulate.
How did this come about? In 2011, during our Kickstarter campaign, we were contacted by Bill Middleton, a foreign service librarian with the U.S. Department of State, who serves as Information Resource Officer for Central Asia. He was eager to try the Uni in Almaty, where public spaces are heavily used in summer after bitter-cold winters. Like us, he saw the Uni as a way to promote reading, highlight the role local libraries, and give people a place and a reason to gather around books and learning.