(Micha O’Connor is the Community Events Liaison for Youth Services at BCPL.)
You know when you’re browsing the Internet and one of those pesky windows infiltrates your field of vision? This is not a new idea. In the marketing/retail world, this is a strategy implored to lure potential customers to a particular good or service. Fashion designers have pop-up shops open frequently, artists will stage a surprise showing in alternate gallery spaces, and U2 famously did so in LA resulting their music video classic “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Now, libraries are getting in on the action with pop-up programs. Essentially, the process is much the same; we still plan the same way as we would for any other program, save for the time and place. That’s when the real magic happens…
Programming at the library requires a lot of moving parts. We’re always looking for the perfect combination of topic and audience. There are so many variables to consider, and we have both hits and misses. There are times when the library is buzzing with activity for no particular reason and we’re left thinking “why aren’t we having a program?” We realize your lives are busy – while you may use the library, your schedule might be so that you can’t participate in a program. For this reason, we’re giving the concept of pop-up programming a test drive. We are employing the scientific method known as “trial and error” to determine times when the library is teeming with life. Like those pesky pop-up windows, we will show up in the public space with some new task or technology for you to try.
For the past two weeks, I have piloted this idea with a crate full of our new tech toys. I have dropped in at every branch with the chance for unsuspecting patrons to try our virtual reality equipment, coding robots and 3D printing pens. A simple loudspeaker message was the only warning I gave to signify that a program would be occurring. More often than not, I had a crowd gather to try their hand at our traveling tech. I will continue to push my luck and the boundaries of the calendar and busy schedules with nothing but a cart full of ideas.
I hope that you won’t disable your browser against our spontaneous activity!
Micha O’Connor is the Community Events Liaison for Youth Services at BCPL. The “Maestro of Mayhem” as she is frequently called, thrives on the spontaneity and innovation that is becoming the norm of library programming.