A library’s mission stretches far beyond its physical building and the thousands of resources they contain. With bookmobiles, remotely accessible digital collections, online educational courses, patron outreach services, and more, libraries are engaging with community members beyond the brick-and-mortar walls of their institutions. Early in 2019, eight intrepid public library systems joined with Baker & Taylor to use an innovative technology for community outreach and new patron activation called Pop Up Library. These libraries–Palo Alto Public and San Francisco Public, CA; Broward County and Orange County, FL; Fulton County, GA; Evanston Public Library, IL; Morris County Library, NJ and Oxford County Library, ON–worked with local business and government agency partners to activate Pop Up Library network devices. The Pop Up Libraries give instant access to library books where people are waiting for services or enjoying part of their day. By providing free eBooks at partner locations, Pop Up Library engages people to sign up for services that they might not have been aware their library provides. Pop Up Library is a simple and effective program for boosting awareness, driving usage and engaging undeserved segments of a library’s community.
THE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT CHALLENGE
Dedicated staff at innovative libraries strive to find creative ways to engage community members who are often unaware of the many services and resources their library offers, or who may not be able to access its physical location. There are barriers for citizens, especially among populations who are often disadvantaged and underserved, in reaching a library, and this is part of a growing conversation around open access. So, if physically getting people to the library is not practical, how can a library reach out and bring its many resources out to where those people are?