At a time when people are facing unexpected challenges, many are reinventing themselves, and give themselves time for things they used to be passionate about. Today we will be talking about an initiative that aims to hit the restart button. This is the reason for the creation of the Re:Start Romania Association, and of a number of projects. We spoke about the most recent one with Alina Stoian, communication adviser of the Association:
“There have been several initiatives, some of them very successful, but the one that is interesting right now, even though we don't get out of the house, it is maybe tempting, in the ten minutes we get out, to find a book to read. This is the project called 'The Open Library', a project born a year and a half ago, almost two, when the Re:Start Romania Association thought it should promote once again reading paper books, and, in addition, to encourage access to culture, so that people may have access to titles that they maybe can no longer find in bookstores, which means that it selected several libraries to which people can donate books. We establish which libraries are part of the program, we put up special shelves in them, and put up donated books on them. The moment someone who wants to read a book in one of the units, they must give a book in exchange. This gives the name of the initiative: 'get a book and give one in exchange'.
They want to provide a space for expression and action for all Romanian citizens who are motivated, confident, ambitious, with socially progressive views, irrespective of age, gender, religion, or political leanings, according to the website of the association. Alina Stoian told us how the project grew with the help of these people:
“So far, the project has grown unexpectedly. Basically, in less than a year we made 12 partnerships, both in Bucharest and in other cities, such as Constanta and Pitesti, where we have such libraries that volunteer to become partners, and offer to take care of our shelves. We give them a stand full of books, and they take care to have books on the shelves, and to encourage people in the area to bring in other books too. Moreover, in the last three months we initiated a mini-project, supporting and promoting Romanian authors. We did this starting with a series of live mini-interviews, which we now plan to do on-line. We already have 4 or 5 interviews. From the moment we started them, people have started becoming more and more interested in the project. They want to become volunteers and 'adopt', as we say, such a library, taking care of a stand that we provide. I believe this initiative took flight faster than we expected, and this can only makes us happy.”
The idea came from the wish, through non-political means, to stimulate the involvement that Romanians have in their own communities, with direct impact on the quality of life of everyone, as our interlocutor told us. And there is such involvement, because we found out that in the 12 existing libraries, the titles on the shelves change every single day, with about 200 books already available in each library:
“Everything is on-line now. First of all we found temporary solutions, with the interviews with Romanian writers. As long as we are making the interviews, the libraries will not disappear. And, even if we are in this period in which things are serious, and everyone is in isolation, we have during this period the most proposals to adopt a library. We will get over this period successfully! Please, stay at home and help us!”
This is an appeal to normalcy at a time when nothing is normal. It is an appeal to rediscover oneself with choices in reading material, today, but, more importantly, tomorrow.