The New York Times: Want Kids to Learn the Joy of Reading? Barbershops and Laundromats Can Help by Allister Chang

Laura Guevara, an owner of the laundromat, said that this year a literacy program, aided by grants, the local library and a nonprofit group called Libraries Without Borders, helped stock books for children who wait at the business with their families.
There are books in English, Arabic, Spanish and Mandarin, placed low so children can wander up to them. Children no longer play in the parking lot or run around inside, Ms. Guevara said. Instead, they read on rugs and chairs. The local librarian drops in for story time.

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Crain's Detroit Business: Early literacy supporters look to get on same page as 3rd-grade requirement looms by Allister Chang

Brilliant Detroit, in partnership with Libraries Without Borders, is managing "wash 'n' learn" sites at two Detroit laundromats that have made space for laptops or computers equipped with ABCMouse software funded by United Way. Geared to kids ages 2-8, the software includes educational games, books, puzzles and songs that help kids learn to read through phonics and teach lessons in math, social studies, art, music and other areas.

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MSN: In a world of Google and Amazon, libraries rethink their role by Allister Chang

Creating the connected spaces in laundromats made perfect sense to Qumisha Goss, a librarian at the Detroit Parkman Branch who was involved in the project. Poorer families -- the ones that can't afford internet access at home -- spend a lot of time in laundromats because they don't have washers or dryers. Since customers often have to wait around for hours for their clothes to be done, the computers gave them a way to be productive during that time. They'll go to pay their bills, check email or write a resume, Goss says.


Education Post: New ‘Wash and Learn’ Program Offers Free Books For Kids at the Laundromat by Allister Chang

“The folks who would benefit most from library programs often don’t know they exist, don’t know they’re eligible for a library card or don’t have a consistent enough schedule to go to a Tuesday 6 p.m. program every week,” said Allister Chang, Libraries Without Borders’ executive director.


Chalkbeat: The unusual new program that teaches kids while their parents do the wash by Allister Chang

So far, the Wash and Learn program has been a big hit at the Fit and Fold laundromat, said Justin Johanon, who manages the laundromat. The Fit and Fold has always had exercise equipment available for adults to use while they wait for their clothes to get clean, but there wasn’t much for kids, Johanon said.

“Their parents would plop them down and they would hang around, doing nothing,” he said. “Now, kids are taking the free books and using the computers even on days when the the instructors aren’t there. It’s awesome.”


Daily Detroit: How Detroit’s Libraries Are Finding New Ways To Engage With The Community by Allister Chang

When LWB first came to Detroit two years ago, we shuffled our Ideas Box – a mobile, pop-up library – to neighborhoods that were far-removed from the progress unfolding downtown. Using the Ideas Box as a convening space, we offered after school academic support and organized community workshops on topics of interest to local residents, which were often booked to capacity days before the event.

Recognizing that folks were hungry for opportunities to learn new skills, we piloted a peer-to-peer professional development program (“Learning Circles”) at various Detroit Public Library branches. In partnership with Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU), we harnessed the city’s existing resources to create spaces where community members could take free MOOCs (massive online open courses) to strengthen their professional development skills.

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Model D Media: Pop-up library program celebrates successes with Free Laundry Day at westside laundromat by Allister Chang


Laundromats, like libraries, are community hubs. It's no wonder, then, that the two go together so well. That's what Libraries Without Borders has found both in Detroit and the Bronx, where the international non-profit has introduced their Wash & Learn program. The pilot program brings library amenities to the people, setting up pop-up libraries in laundromats.

Detroit Free Press: Detroit kids learn while their parents do the laundry by Allister Chang


As educators increasingly recognize that teaching children during traditional school hours is not enough, Libraries Without Borders and its local partners have been experimenting with bringing literacy programs into people’s lives.  That includes people whose lives are too complicated to allow them to attend classes or tutoring programs at libraries or community centers. And it includes the kids from low-income neighborhoods who are more likely to lose academic ground over the summer than their more affluent peers.

Michigan National Public Radio (NPR): Laundry, libraries, and literacy: Why one group is putting books in laundromats by Allister Chang


“What’s been exciting about this is that we’ve found a space where you’re almost forced to be idle, and, most importantly, we’re reaching a lot of folks who don’t have the resources or might not have the resources for a working washing or drying machine.”