Pop-up libraries commonly appear in the form of a small, spatial take-over that involves and engages the surrounding community in the name of protest, the promotion of literacy, or to simply spark curiosity. They have taken the shape of shipping containers, gone as far as beach installations, and even found themselves integrated with motor vehicles and bicycles.
Adam Wiesehan, a street art enthusiast, and Margaret Day, a librarian, are pioneers of the modern pop-up library. Their outdoor library installation debuted on May Day (2012) in New York City in response to the confiscation of the Occupy Wall Street Library, also known as The People’s Library. Following their lead, society has enjoyed various adaptations of their creative display to share a love of books and the importance of literacy.
Waterloo’s own Conestoga Mall recently hosted a pop-up library in partnership with the Waterloo Public Library (WPL). The unconventional location provided content for children, teens, and adult audiences alike. According to Rhonda Richmond, Conestoga Mall’s Marketing Manager, they wanted to “give shoppers a fun and interactive way of helping and supporting one of their community partners, the Waterloo Public Library,” as part of their commitment to give back to the community. Conestoga Mall currently extends their Community Space program to charitable groups that can apply for space at no charge to assist with fundraising efforts. “Last year we hosted close to 50 groups who raised just over $150,000,” said Richmond.
This two-week initiative was coupled with an Instagram contest and the “Decorate to Donate” campaign, which encouraged participants to decorate their own book covers as a fundraising effort. Conestoga Mall donated $1 for every decorated cover to the Waterloo Public Library to be put towards their programs & services. Anjana Kipfer, the Marketing and Communications Manager for the WPL, shared that this initiative has been positive and effective: “Customers have been very enthusiastic about the pop-up library, liking and commenting on it on [their] social media feeds.”
The pop-up library is only one of Conestoga Mall’s literacy based initiatives. It came to fruition just after their Family Literacy Day event on January 27th, which they held in partnership with the other library systems in the Region and the Early Learning Alliance of Waterloo Region (ELAWR). While keeping literacy the main focus around both unique events, Conestoga Mall continues to find creative ways in promoting regional libraries.