Would You Try a Pop-up Library?
You may have noticed yesterday was a very busy day around CBI towers as we unveiled the image and some info for this year’s Children’s Book Festival (watch this space for more about the festival lineup and image!).
Every year during the festival CBI works closely with library authorities across the country and we’re constantly impressed by the hard work, dedication and innovation public librarians bring to what they do. Last year CBI was lucky enough to work with Dublin City Libraries to host a large scale schools’ events with Roddy Doyle at Liberty Hall. Having an event outside of the library building itself can often be a disadvantage for some authorities but Dublin City Libraries saw it as an opportunity to bring the library outside of its building. They created a Pop Up Library. Dublin City Librarians have penned this guest blog post to tell us how its done:
Everywhere you look these days you see or hear about ‘Pop Ups’; pop-up shops, pop-up art shows, McDonalds even have a pop-up restaurant at the London Olympics – so why not pop-up libraries?
Always willing to give something a try – we unveiled our first trial pop-up library on Monday 17th October, when best-selling author Roddy Doyle appeared at the Childrens Books Ireland / Dublin City Public Libraries event in Liberty Hall. Over 400 children attended the event which was part of Children’s Book Festival 2011.
The Gutter Book Shop were providing a pop-up bookshop (see, there’s that word again) at the venue and this is what put the idea into our heads that we could provide a companion pop-up library at Liberty Hall. CBI were on board with the idea – so there was really no reason not to give it a try.
To decorate the space we used a pull-up library promotion sign and a series of laminated notices. The books were displayed on a table, provided by staff at Liberty Hall, and we also used Perspex stands to help display books face out. This was not a sophisticated production!
The key to success in any field is preparation, so we scheduled a meeting with all interested parties; Margaret, Anne and Ros (who usually organise events in and outside libraries), Rosemary and Clare from Readers’ Services (who take care of all book stock) and Finbarr from our I.T. department (because if the technology lets you down…). Everyone ended up with a job to do.
Finbar prepared two laptop computers, with mobile wireless connections, making sure they were able to handle using Galaxy (our library housekeeping programme). We also borrowed two hand held barcode scanners from our mobile library service. We conducted a trial run using the laptops in Liberty Hall the week before the event, in case of connections problems.
We decided that the book stock for the pop-up library would be 50% Roddy Doyle books and 50% a general selection suitable for the age group (10+), about 120 items in total. Rosemary ordered extra copies of ‘Greyhound of a Girl’ and other Roddy Doyle books – Ros and Anne raided the dispatch area for new books waiting to be sent to branch libraries, diverting them to stock our Liberty Hall library instead.
We designed some basic signs to draw attention to the pop-up library and explain how to use it. The pop-up library and the pop-up bookshop were in operation after Roddy Doyle had finished speaking and while the children queued up to meet him and get his autograph.
So – was it a success?
I would call it a qualified success. The main purpose of having a pop-up library at an event like this is to draw attention to the books available, free of charge, in your local library. We wanted to showcase the variety of books available and how up-to-date and relevant the stock is. We wanted to remind people to join their local library. It is very difficult to judge how successful a promotion like this actually is. The numbers of books issued and library card application forms handed out was very small. The actual issuing of books on the day was very secondary to the overall promotion of the service. The practicalities, including the technology, all worked perfectly.
Would we do anything differently next time?
Assuming there is a next time! One of the main difficulties encountered was that many of the teachers were reluctant to let the children browse the books on display or even approach the pop-up library. This was frustrating, but understandable, as it had been a long morning and teachers were anxious to keep groups of children together and not delay too long before the return journey to school. We would consider making the pop-up library available before the event as well as after.
We want to hear from Festival Co-ordinators- Have you tried a Pop-Up Library at any events outside of the library? Would you like to try it? Do you feel it could be a useful tool for bringing the service outside of the library walls?