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The Bookmobile Photography Workshop

Tulsa City-County Library - Outreach Services Department

Innovation Leader: Brad Thomas, Manager, Outreach Services, Tulsa City County Library, bthomas@tulsalibrary.org

Problem Statement

The objective of bookmobile services for the Tulsa City-County Library is to promote and provide equal opportunities for children in at-risk, low income neighborhoods. While the physical libraries within the county offer a wide variety of “in-house” programming for children and teens, a majority of the children residing in these communities are not able to visit a “brick and mortar” library due to economic and geographic disadvantages. In addition, the employees staffing the bookmobile were concerned with the fact that most of the children in the neighborhoods served received very little or no encouragement from family members to pursue interests in extracurricular activities. The bookmobile staff felt that, due to the lack of support for these children, many of them placed little importance upon the value of self-expression and/or creativity.

Innovation

Shawna Smith, Steve Barrett and Mary Seabourn went out into the community in the fall of 2009 to encourage local businesses to join them in a “photography workshop,” contest and exhibit for 2010. Working in cooperation with Harvest Market, a local community center and grocery store, a workshop was presented. All children in attendance were provided with an introduction to photography and editing, books and manuals on photography skills, and a free disposable camera. All participants were encouraged to go out into the community, use a critical eye, express themselves through the lens of the camera and capture images of “their own world.”

Progress

In the spring of 2010, participants turned in their disposable cameras to staff members, and free processing was offered by Reasor’s, a local grocery store chain. After the photos were developed, all photos were judged for creativity, professionalism and originality. A display of the top participants was placed on the main floor of the Central Library, and the top two winners were given a digital camera for their efforts. After the program had ended, art and photography materials began to increase in circulation on the bookmobile, and children began to aggressively pursue the bookmobile staff to perform another workshop. Because of the overwhelming response, the staff has scheduled another workshop in March of 2011, with a contest and exhibit scheduled for late spring and summer.