Astoria Book Fair: Making Literature Accessible to All

Image courtesy of the Astoria Book Fair.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Astorians banded together to support the community in many different ways. One such initiative is the Astoria Book Fair, a free book fair aimed to provide literature to all Astorians.

On Sunday, August 30th from 1-4PM the Astoria Book Fair will be handing out over 1,200 donated books to the community, free of cost, as part of the 31st Avenue Open Streets initiative. Donations were received from local bookshops, publishers, and members of the community.

“The Astoria Book Fair was born out of the notion that books and education should be accessible to all, regardless of finances”, wrote co-organizer Pilot Viruet.  Both Viruet and co-organizer Liah Paterson have received support from the Astoria Mutual Aid Network, formed to support the community during the pandemic, as well as the People’s Bodega, which provides free PPE, water, and snacks to those in need.

The lack of accessibility to libraries and online educational resources have become particularly prevalent in recent months, with many forced to stay home, including young students. When co-organizer Liah Paterson was working with the Astoria Mutual Aid Network to help hand out food and register to vote, she received feedback from residents who wanted to see more books and educational resources available. Viruet and Paterson established the Astoria Book Fair, and received over 1,000 donations in just one week.

Future plans are currently in the works to expand the initiative beyond the upcoming August 30th event. The Astoria Book Fair hopes to soon hold a second round of donations to provide books to residents at the Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses. Book donations are open to all types of books except cookbooks, self-help books, and textbooks. Donations of books from queer authors and authors of color are especially welcome.

“The call to action isn’t going anywhere. There are a lot of people interested in volunteering and local businesses that really want to help”, said Paterson. Additionally, for those interested in helping with future events, Paterson noted that volunteers for the August 30th event is at capacity, however a sign-up sheet has been created via the [email protected] email for volunteer consideration for future events.

Give Me Astoria would like to thank the organizers of the Astoria Book Fair for starting this wonderful community initiative! If you are interested in learning more about the 31st Ave. Open Street event, please visit its official website here.