At the end of 2023, Romanians of DC inaugurated 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. You can read the full announcement here.
The Case for Little Free “Romanian” Libraries in the Nation’s Capital
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.
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. Romanians of DC pledges to financial sponsor the two libraries for a period of 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.
About the Small Libraries’ Decorations and the Artists Who Made Them
Romanian-American artist Andreia Gliga, designed the Little Free Library in front of the Residence of the Romanian Ambassador. Hailing from Suceava and inspired by childhood experiences in the culturally rich region of Bucovina, surrounded by renowned painted monasteries, Andreia has spent over 14 years as an art teacher while simultaneously serving as a Romanian Target Language Expert with DLS. Her work, which reflects a profound connection to her roots and heritage, has been showcased in solo and group exhibits across Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, and in Bucharest. She has earned recognition, including a selection for the Art Takes Times Square competition in 2012. Andreia brings into her artistic journey her commitment to preserving and transmitting Romanian cultural symbols.
Andreia drew inspiration from the symbol of the “bird,” particularly the rooster, for her design of the small library. The rooster, a prominent figure in Romanian folk ornamentation, signifies light, life, and rebirth. Andreia proudly portrays the rooster adorned with the sun, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness. She also incorporates the mythical Măiastra Bird, representing rejuvenation through its song. Her work also includes symbols from Romanian flora and fauna, like the fertility-associated spiral and the tree of life. These elements showcase the richness of Romanian folk art, embodying cultural stories and mysteries passed down through generations.
Vasiluța Vasilache, a Moldovan artist, embarked on her creative journey in second grade at the “Spectru” workshop, guided by the inspiring artist Ecaterina Ajder. This early connection laid the foundation for her exploration in art, leading to formal education at the National Arts University in Bucharest and a Master’s in Management of Infodocumentary Institutions from Moldova State University. Her diverse artistic repertoire, spanning painting, assemblage, and collage, delves into emotions and states of being, highlighting the potency of storytelling in art. Throughout her career, Vasiluța has exhibited internationally, with notable showcases including “The Zero Point Field” and “Rencontre Franco-Moldave: un aller-retour.” As the founder of the “Cocoșul Roșu” studio, she continues to contribute meaningfully to the art scene, with her works finding homes in private collections across Moldova, Romania, Israel, Russia, France, Italy, the USA, Poland, and Germany.
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.
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 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.
How Can You Help
First and foremost we encourage everyone to visit the two libraries and to take a book that piques your interest and replace it, if you can / wish, with another from your personal collection. The concept is based on the honor system, relying on a communal understanding that encourages everyone to contribute to the library’s vibrancy. Those who may wish to make a more substantial donations of Romanian books are asked to contact us directly. We woud be happy to accept your donation(s), and as a 501(c)3 organization, we would also be able to provide a donation letter for those that exceed $100 in total value.