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Often open 24/7, laundromats provide an essential service for families struggling to get by. But far too much time is wasted watching clothes spin dry. Patrons wait an average of more than 90 minutes each visit and spend 2.5 hours a week at the laundromat. What if a laundromat could provide resources to connect, to learn, and to play?
For years, Libraries Without Borders US has partnered with local libraries and small business owners to transform laundromats into connected places of learning and community. By engaging families at the laundromat, we make library services accessible for people with challenging work and childcare schedules who can’t visit their local public library during opening hours.
Since 2015, we have partnered with public libraries and community organizations to design and install laundromat libraries in eight states and the District of Columbia.
We have turned the laundromat into a place to learn and to have fun – and a place where customers can connect to resources to help find a job, get legal assistance, or get a broadband connection at home.
In creating these laundromat libraries, we have addressed the urgent need for early childhood literacy, digital literacy, and information in underserved communities urban and rural. We work with under-served and under-resourced BIPOC communities across the country to bridge the digital divide — one laundromat at a time.
“I’m a mom with 3 kids and 2 jobs. I want to take a computer class at the library, but my work schedule is always changing and I can’t afford to miss a shift. This program lets me learn on my own time.”— Laundromat Patron in Detroit
Our “Laundry & Literacy Kit,” packed with educational materials, is designed to create playful,literacy-rich spaces for young children and families in the laundromat environment. We believe that it can change lives.
In 2018, a two-phase pilot experimental study of New York laundromats equipped with the kitproduced amazing results. New York University researchers found that those laundromatswere a critical incubator of early literacy: children were 30 times more likely to engage inliteracy activities than in other laundromats; parents were significantly more likely to engage in family learning and literacy activities; and everyone praised the connected, literacy spaces made available in local laundromats.
Turning laundromats into libraries makes a difference. Read the full Impact Report here.
Wash & Learn Initiative National Sites
This is a list of all the past, present, and upcoming WALI national pop-up sites in the United States.
Family Laundry: 2609 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601
For questions and more information, please contact LWB US Director of Education/Deputy Director at