Little Free “Romanian” Libraries Come to Washington, DC

Romanians of Washington, DC is delighted to announce the inauguration of two Little Free “Romanian” Libraries, a unique initiative aimed at promoting Romanian literature and culture in the heart of the nation’s capital. The first library is located in front of the Residence of the Romanian Ambassador at 3003 Massachusetts Ave, NW and is designed and painted by local Romanian-American artist Andreia Gliga. The second library is located in front of the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova to the U.S. located at 2101 S Street, NW and bears the artistic input of the Moldovan artist Vasiluța Vasilache. The two libraries feature Romanian language books for children and adults as well as English language books by Romanian and Moldovan-American authors as well as translations of well-known Romanian and Moldovan authors.

Pictured here is the Little Free Library located in front of the Residency of the Romanian Ambassador to the U.S.

Romanians of DC is grateful to both the Romanian Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Andrei Muraru and to the Moldovan Ambassador to the U.S., H.E. Viorel Rusu for the enthusiasm with which they have embraced the idea of these little libraries. Special thanks to the staff of the two Embassies for helping coordinate the necessary bureaucratic logistics necessary to see this project come to fruition.

Standing right in front of the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova to the U.S. is the seconf Little Free ”Romanian” Library sponsord by Romanians of DC.

Inaugurating Cultural Bridges at the Romanian and Moldovan Embassies

The first to be inaugurated was the Little Free Library in front of the Residence of the Romanian Ambassador. The official unveiling took place on November 30 during the Annual Meeting of FORA – The Federation of Romanian American Organizations, hosted by H.E. Andrei Muraru and attended by the Honorary Consuls of Romania throughout the U.S., FORA Board Members, the President of the Romanian Cultural Institute, Mr. Liviu Jicman and ICR NY President, Mr. Dorian Branea.

Pictured here at the official inauguration, from left to right, Mr. Dorian Branea, Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, Ms. Daniela Kammrath, Member of the Board of FORA, Mr. Bogdan Banu, President of Romanians of DC, H.E. Andrei Muraru, the Ambassador of Romania to the U.S., Mr. Liviu Jicman, President of the Romanian Cultural Institute Network, and Mr. Mircea Divricean, Honorary Consult of Romania in Utah.

On this occasion, Mr. Banu presented the project to those in attendance, highlighting its potential to become an innovative vehicle for community engagement as a mini community gathering spot, one which could and should bring together both the Romanian diaspora and the broader American community interested in Romanian culture, literature and history. He also noted that, equally important, this library provides a public space for Romanian art, showcasing the work of a local Romanian-American artist, Andreia Gliga. In closing, Mr. Banu expressed his hopes for future collaborations with the Romanian Embassy, ICR, and other organizations, foreseeing potential expansions of cultural initiatives and offered a special thanks to the Embassy and to the Ambassador for entertaining the idea of a small library and for making this idea become a reality.

The inauguration of the Little Free Library in front of the Moldovan Embassy took place a week later, on December 8, as part of a Winter Party hosted by the Embassy for the Moldovan Diaspora and for Friends of the Republic of Moldova from throughout the greater Washington, DC area. On this occasion, Ambassador Viorel Ursu extended gratitude to the Romanians of DC for this initiative and sponsorship, emphasizing that the small library is an illustration of the Embassy’s ongoing commitment to promoting cultural exchange, communal values, and a love for literature. The Ambassador encouraged attendees to consider embarking on a literary journey that transcends borders through the use of the library, further fostering cultural connections.

H.E. Viorel Ursu, the Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to the U.S. Addressing those in attendance at the Winter Party and oficially announcing the launch of the Little Free Library. Also present at the event, and pictured on the left side, is Mr. Mihai Popșoi, Vice President of the Moldovan Parliament.

A Collaborative Endeavor for Romanian Culture

In late 2022, the Romanians of Washington, DC, proposed the installation of a Romanian-themed Little Free Library in front of the Embassy of Romania or the new residence of the Romanian Ambassador. A few months later, Romanians of DC presented a similar proposal to the newly appointed Moldovan Ambassador to the U.S., H.E. Viorel Ursu. The goal of this initiative is to help promote, in a unique way, Romanian literature and culture to both American audiences and to the local Romanian community in the metropolitan area of the U.S. capital. Similar small libraries have already been installed in front of the embassies of Finland and Lithuania (to give just two examples), highlighting the collaborative spirit within the European Union.

Mr. Bogdan Banu, President of Roamnians of DC and H.E. Viorel Ursu, the Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to the U.S. picuted next to the newly inugurated Little Free Library.

Romanians of DC acquired the two Little Free Libraries and commissioned local Romanian-American artist Andreia Gliga and Moldovan painter Vasiluța Vasilache to decorate them using or inspired by traditional motifs. For their inauguration, Romanians of DC provided a total of 378 books, including 26 books by Romanian-American authors, 62 books by Moldovan authors, 103 children’s books, 115 books by classics of Romanian literature, and 72 historical books. The libraries are envisioned as a community exchange point where readers can borrow and contribute books.

Romanians of DC further pledged to financial sponsor the two libraries over the next five years and to continue purchasing new books and to collaborate with the Embassy of Romania and the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova, the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, the Department for Romanians Abroad, and libraries in Romania and the Republic of Moldova to build a more substantial book collection. Depending on the success of this initiative, the partnership may be extended beyond the initial five-year period.

The two Little Free Libraries were officially registered through the Little Free Library program, have received unique charter numbers (152993 and 164789) and are included in the organization’s global database and digital map of free libraries worldwide. The official registration plaques are inscribed in both English and Romanian.

About the Small Libraries’ Decorations

Andreia Gliga, the local Romanian-American artist, drew inspiration from the symbol of the “bird” for the garden paintings, and especially for the small library, as a symbol of complete freedom through its ability to detach itself from the earthly, heavier ties and soar to the limitless sky! The rooster, in particular, holds a prominent figure in Romanian folk ornamentation. Reminiscent of the solar cult practiced by the Geto-Dacians in ancient times, it symbolizes light, life, truth, rebirth; The rooster, with its unique gift of being the only bird that sings both day and night, is the guardian announcing the victory of the sun and light over the darkness of night. Andreia painted the rooster proudly wearing the sun like a crown. The Măiastra Bird is also an allegorical bird from Romanian mythology! She is the queen of the birds and it holds unearthly powers through its song that rejuvenates the listener. Măiastra belongs to the other realm and is displaying its unique beauty only to the truly privileged. Andreia associated the bird with the moon and its mysterious, feminine powers!

Additionally, Andreia incorporated symbols inspired by Romanian flora and fauna, such as the spiral representing fertility and energy, the tree of life connecting earth and heaven, the snake line signifing the lost path, and various other elements reflecting cultural richness and ancient history. Her work further illustrates that Romanian folk art is alive with stories and mystery. All its symbols and meanings represent our cultural DNA and we are proudly and carefully preserving and transmitting it to the future generations!

Vasiluța Vasilache brought a touch of Moldovan cultural richness to the heart of Washington, DC, by adorning the Little Free Library in front of the Moldovan Embassy with her enchanting artwork. Drawing inspiration from Moldovan folk art, Vasiluța intricately infused the designs with symbols reminiscent of traditional stitching found on folk blouses and the towels that adorn icons in every Moldovan home. The vibrant colors of red and black, prominently featured in Moldovan folk art, create a striking visual impact. Her meticulous attention to detail captures the essence of Moldova’s cultural heritage, incorporating intricate patterns of flowers and birds that resonate with the country’s folklore. Through this artistic endeavor, Vasiluța not only transforms a simple library into a cultural beacon but also bridges the geographical gap, bringing a piece of Moldova’s artistic legacy to the heart of the United States.

About the Artists

Andreia Gliga, a Romanian-born artist residing in the Washington DC area for the past 25 years, has a deep connection to her roots and heritage. Born in Suceava, she spent childhood vacations in the culturally rich area of Bucovina, surrounded by the famous painted monasteries built in the 1400s. She has been working for more than 14 years as an art teacher while at the same time teaching Romania to American diplomats, as a Romanian Target Language Expert (with DLS).

Andreia has showcased her artwork in solo and group exhibits in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, and Bucharest, gaining recognition, including a selection for the Art Takes Times Square competition in New York in 2012 when she had her work shown on huge panels right in the heart of the city. Her work was later published in the event’s book. Currently working on future exhibits, Andreia is passionate about preserving and transmitting Romanian cultural symbols and meanings for future generations. She loves spending time in nature with her husband, two daughters (the oldest, a second-year Architecture and Design University student and the other, a senior in High School) and their two dogs!

Vasiluța Vasilache is a Moldovan artist whose creative journey began in the second grade when she joined the “Spectru” workshop, led by the inspiring artist Ecaterina Ajder. This early connection with art laid the foundation for her artistic exploration. She continued her formal education at the National Arts University in Bucharest, Romania, specializing in painting under the guidance of Prof. Florin Mitroi. Her academic pursuits extended to Moldova State University for a Master’s in Management of Infodocumentary Institutions. Vasiluța’s artistic repertoire is characterized by a rich blend of materials and techniques, including painting, assemblage, and collage. Her works delve into the realms of emotions, thoughts, and states of being, emphasizing the power of storytelling in art.

Throughout her career, Vasiluța has showcased her creations in numerous exhibitions, both nationally and internationally. Notable exhibitions include the personal showcase “The Zero Point Field” and group exhibitions like “Time Without Time” and “Rencontre Franco-Moldave: un aller-retour.” As the founder of the “Cocoșul Roșu” studio, Vasilu’a Vasilache continues to make meaningful contributions to the art scene, with her works finding a place in private collections across Moldova, Romania, Israel, Russia, France, Italy, the USA, Poland, and Germany.

What is the Little Free Library?

The Little Free Library project, initiated by a non-profit organization of the same name based in Hudson, Wisconsin, was founded in 2009. It consists of small, custom-made wooden libraries typically installed in front of private buildings. The project has grown to include over 125,000 such libraries across all U.S. states and over 100 countries, fostering global literary exchange and enhancing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

The Little Free Romanian Library on Massachusetts Avenue also provides a public space for Romanian art, showcasing the work of Andreia Gliga, a local Romanian-American artist.

Those interested in donating more substantial book collections for the Little Free Romanian Library project may do so by contacting Romanians of DC directly. Book donations over $100 in value will be considered tax deductible.