The Embassy of Latvia invites everyone to take part in the unveiling of the Little Free Library in front of the Embassy building (2306 Massachusetts Ave NW) on May 11 at 3 pm during the European Union Open House. This initiative is part of a broader launch of a campaign to promote the export of Latvian literature in the United States. The Little Free Library, painted in the Latvian colors of carmine and white, will hold Latvian books in the English language and other publications for passersby to borrow or take with them.
The successful #iamintrovert campaign travels from London to the shores of the United States to introduce American readers and publishers to some of the best world literature created by one of the most introverted nations – the Latvians. The Embassy has partnered with the export platform “Latvian Literature,” the American Latvian Association and the National Library of Latvia.
Little Free Library in a U.S. non-profit organization founded ten years ago in 2009 by late Todd Bol in Hudson, Wisconsin. There are about 80 000 registered libraries in all 50 U.S. states and 91 countries. The idea is to make books available to anyone, encourage reading and a sense of community. Latvians are known for their respect and love of books. One of the most recent modern buildings in the landscape of the Latvian capital Riga is the National Library of Latvia that draws inspiration from national mythology and resembles a glass mountain, also dubbed as the Castle of Light.
The unveiling will happen during the annual EU Open House – to mark Europe Day on May 9 and celebrate the European Month of Culture – the Embassy of Latvia will open its doors to visitors from 10 am to 4 pm.
This will be the first time in several years that visitors will have a chance to walk through the historic Alice Pike Barney Studio House, which was completed in 1903 and presented during also an open house event. The building features intricately carved wood balconies, tile floors, and stained glass windows, and elements reminding of a Mediterranean villa in the south of Europe. Today the Embassy is home to unique art pieces including tapestries by Egils Rozenbergs – gifts by the Latvian Honorary Consuls in honor of the Centennial of Latvia in 2018. Alice Pike Barney, the former owner of the house, has entertained various famous guests, including President Theodore Roosevelt. The building changed hands a few times, was also owned by the Smithsonian, until it was opened as the Embassy of Latvia in March 1, 2006 by then Latvian President Ms Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. Washington DC was home to the Latvian diplomatic representation that ensured the continuation of the Republic of Latvia founded in 1918 throughout years of Soviet occupation, which was not recognized by the United States.
During EU Open House, guests will also be able to enjoy folk dancing by the local Latvian group Namejs and folk singing by Sudrabavots. Come to taste Latvian chocolate “Laima,” Latvian hard liquor Riga Black Balsam, and obtain tourism information.
Latvia celebrates its centennial in 2018 in the period of several years – 2017 to 2021. The main message of the celebration is “I am Latvia” emphasizing that the greatest asset of Latvia is its people who with their work are creating present day Latvia and together with the next generation are setting the foundation for the future. Promotion of Latvian literature in the United States is part of the public diplomacy program of Latvia’s centennial.