Literacy and health go hand in hand, said County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, who was at the University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning recently to announce the winners of the 2014 Little Free Library Competition.

 With a goal to promote literacy, the Bernalillo County Office and Health and Social Services hosted a competition for the students in Matt Gines’ architecture studio to use their imaginations to design little free libraries.

They announced the winners strategically – at the end of National Health Week and the beginning of National Library Week.

Winners of the competition are:
* 1st place, Erica Aragon
* 2nd place, Nellyn Cordova
* 3rd place, Nicolas Leonard
* Honorable mentions, Desmond Dorn and Samantha Villasenor

Robert Shipley of Little Free Libraries (LFLs) said, “The students have set a trend with designs by not making them look like birdhouses or barns.”

Gines said, “Design is injected into everything. Everybody should be exposed to design, which made this three-week exercise fun.”

Erica Aragon’s first place design is artistic in design and yet still meets the function of the library. It features brightly colored shapes that books can be tucked into. Its structure is steel and cables.

The goal is to install five little free libraries, one in each district, to encourage others to build similar libraries in their own communities. Each winning student’s design will be built and placed somewhere within Bernalillo County.

LFLs recognize outstanding ideas that redefine community engagement through design and implementation of social interaction, materiality, aesthetics, spatial organizations, flexibility, adaptability and the digital revolution.

LFLs are a forum that examines the relationship between the community and it’s interstitial spaces, activating people and places through storytelling.

Participants in this competition considered advances in technology, explored materials, systems and urban and architectural methods to promote, social and cultural engagement in the contemporary city.