Virtual Library Pop-Ups
Des Moines Public Library, Iowa
Libraries have always been destinations, where our customers come to us. With the launch of the Virtual Library, we are coming out to the customers, wherever and whenever they need us, 24/7. To bring this home to our community, we wanted to take the library where the community was, for that day. We chose school hallways, grocery stores, job centers, senior centers, malls and the usual television stations and radio. We only spent an hour at each location; we truly "popped in" then out of each stop. Our challenge was to meet as many Des Moinesians as possible, and introduce them to the Virtual Library, virtually! We wanted to move out of the usual posters, flyers and bookmarks and bring the Virtual Library to life.
Key Elements of Innovation
We chose the pop-up locations for the variety of audiences: kids, families, teens, students, adults, seniors. We selected different parts of the Virtual Library to show: kids stories, research pages, e-books, e-magazines, e-audio, bookshelves and the ever popular Consumer Reports! We gave away magnets with the web address and the day's slogan, "Connect With Us." (Staff were also wearing "Connect With Us" t-shirts both on pop-ups and back at the library to celebrate the day, or for those more edgy, our shirt: "DMPL Virtual: No SHHHHH.") And we gave away candy, too! Tootsie "Pops!"
The library had never done anything like this before, so we didn't know what to anticipate. The outcome was extremely positive with a 30% jump in page views a day for the new Virtual Library. The pop-ups staff team got a first-hand experience of community outreach, of latent love for the library, of opportunities to educate, of a relative ignorance of many of our services. The pop-ups were mutually energizing: the patrons for the (Virtual) Library, the staff for more pop-ups, more outreach. The staff also embraced the Virtual Library, our seventh branch, on go-live day. We had mini-pop-ups inside our library locations, so many people got to participate in the launch. The DMPL now truly has seven branches, one virtual, permeable and 24/7.