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According to the Pew Research Center, over 25% of Americans adults in 2019 did not have at-home access to broadband services. For those living in households without Internet, the library is a necessity, offering free, online access. For senior citizens, the unemployed, and low-income folks, the library is a critical institution providing educational resources, employment services, refuge, books, and digital devices. Yet for many communities without resources, the barriers to accessing their local libraries are often steep and insurmountable. Many are unaware of library services and have difficulty navigating library policies; some are unable to pay library fees; others have difficulty traveling to the library; and many lack the literacy and digital skills necessary to make the best use of the library.
In response to this challenge, Libraries Without Borders US seeks to transform all 30,000+ laundromats in the United States into access points for digital learning and community development. A grassroots solution, the Wash and Learn Initiative (WALI) leverages community-based organizations and resources to advance digital equity and lifelong learning while families wash, dry, and fold their laundry. WALI enables libraries to offer early childhood literacy, digital literacy programming, and information services inside laundromats.
Why the Laundromat?
“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.”— WALI Participant in Detroit
In 2018, Dr. Susan Neuman, Professor of Childhood and Literacy Education at New York University, conducted a two-phase pilot experimental study of New York laundromats equipped with the “Laundry & Literacy Kit.”
Created by the collaboration of Too Small to Fail, the LaundryCares Foundation, and Libraries Without Borders, the robust “Laundry & Literacy Kit” consists of high-quality materials designed to create playful, literacy-rich spaces for young children and families in the laundromat environment.
Read the full Impact Report: Impact Report
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