Pop-up library/book cart/bookmobile/mobilivre, part II

A few more precedent images and inspiration for the pop-up library project I’m working on this summer with Jennifer Keyser, MLIS student and intern extraordinaire.  These images are mostly hers, but I thought I’d share so we had them all in one place (and to show what great stuff she found.)

This one’s actually from my wife, whose lifelong ambition it is for me to drive a bookmobile in a small coastal town.  We’ll see, hon.  This is a book cart in a park in Seoul, Korea.  Park visitors choose the book they want, fill our their name and user information in the register, take the book away to read, then return it when they leave the park.  Original link here (scroll down for the image and description.)

I love the big bicycle wheels on this design, and the open shelves, which look like they close up with wooden cabinet covers (which in turn fold up or down, to form a counter…)

Now this is a DIY bookmobile…  Again, bike bouncy bike tires are the way to go–and I like that this one comes with kickstands you can bring down to make the structure stable for a little stay somewhere.  The colors are bright, the whole thing is inviting and approachable.  Jennifer found this one on Design Squish; look here for a few other terrific mobile book-purveying devices.  (Airstream!)

Jennifer found this great example of cool, innovative design using ultra-modern materials.  I love the spirit of experimentation and adventure here.  From Cool Hunting, here.

About these beautiful stools, Jennifer says:

I really like the idea of repurposing materials/objects, but often find the finish project is too thrown together and distracting. I really like these stools –there is something sleek and simple about the design. I came across the stool on the Unconsumption blog (all about reusing items). More about the stools here.

And, from IKEA and The New York Times (by way of some talented furniture hackers), some clever and inspiring repurposing of existing designs.  We’re definitely thinking along the same lines here–Jennifer found this image and sent it to me the same day I was on the delightful IKEA Hacker blog, trolling for ways to reuse trays, shelves, and racks.

And last but not least, Jennifer hand-picked a Nikki McClure image that combines the strong graphic line, beautiful hand-crafted appeal, and overall DIY/PNW vibe of our ideal.  If only we could create something so beautiful!  Maybe a vinyl cut for the side of the cart, or a very talented addition to our poster?

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Dark spot.

The Hood River County library, an original Carnegie with a view over the Columbia River Gorge, just starved to death.

From the Oregonian‘s op-ed:

Down deep, we really believe it should be the birthright of every Oregon kid to have a library card and a library close by. But libraries are not just cool pools of recreational reading; they’re electronic hotbeds of economic resilience: job searches, job applications and business start-ups. The Internet, far from killing off libraries, has made them even more vital.


Flickr Creative Commons, original here.

Book cart/food cart/pop-up library precedents

This summer I’m working on outreach projects with Jennifer Keyser, who is an awesome MLIS student and our summer intern in the library.  We’re focusing on the UO’s architecture students here in Portland–our largest user group.  One of our ideas is to bring library services and collections up to the studio spaces (four floors away from us) through a small, mobile cart.  We’re calling it our pop-up library…when we’re not calling it our bookmobile, mobile library, or other stuff.

Right now we’re both looking for good precedents to share, that will get us charged up about the project, make sure we’re on the same page design-wise, and help us describe it to others.  So I’m looking for images of…

  • great, clear, colorful poster design (for a poster and/or flyers to describe the project)
  • food carts, book carts, bookmobiles, and other well-designed DIY mobile devices that combine efficiency with beauty with intentional, streamlined style
  • repurposed book trucks:  are there any stylish ones already out there?
  • ad-hoc service desks that rock

I’ll post what I find here.  If you know of more–and I’m kicking myself right now for all the great library, store, cart, and bike designs I’ve seen over the last year and not held onto–please link in the comments!

For starters, I’m in love with everything on Information is Beautiful.  And the L!brary! Initiative blows my mind.

The World Cup is so predictable, from Wired UK via Information is Beautiful.  Love the color, the clarity.  The image calls you over to look more closely.

Images of NY public school libraries redone by top architects and designers.  Love the sign on the floor, love the energy in the graphics.  Both via the L!brary! Initiative.

Vintage poster for The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton.  From a collection of vintage posters at Design Cubicle.  Again, love the solidity, simplicity, and vividness of the image.  And the color, and the cleverness of the “greaser” comb.

Both from Design Cubicle, same post.  I love the way the multiples are overlaid in the eyelasses poster, and the way they’re organized so neatly in the shoes.  I can imagine book or DVD covers working like this, or some other image that draws the user over and helps explain what the library offers.

From the portfolio of Yaron Schoen, a graphic designer:  Tea Junkie.  Shows the power of a silhouette and some simple text, as well as the effectiveness of a series.  The Barnes & Noble author images we’re all familiar with–the etched-looking portraits of Virginia Woolf and Bernard Shaw–do the same thing.  I can imagine a short series of library posters highlighting parts of the collection…or, say, a silhouette image of an iconic building (maybe even one related to a class currently being taught) with the call number range beneath it.

It’s harder to find good images of mobile precedents–things in three dimensions, things with moving parts.

A classic bookmobile, or “book truck,” that served Davidson County, NC in the early days.  There’s a great page documenting the history of the county’s book trucks here.  The older trucks have beautiful lines and are made of solid, appealing materials:  wood, rubber, steel, glass.  I like that the books are visible from the outside of the truck, here.  It looks like what it is:  a library on wheels.  Later bookmobiles lose some dignity.

This is insanely ambitious, but while we’re blue-skying, the kinetic architecture of Tom Kundig (and associates) definitely has a look and feel I’d love to see in a project like this.  The materials and scale give the buildings a grave, quiet, handsome quality.  And they really do move.

And of course, because we’re in Portland, we have to take into account the local food cart culture.  This city is rich with old Airstreams and Teardrops repurposed to serve waffles, burritos, and banh mi.  The subtext is: hip, capable, friendly.  Just like the library.  (This is from the Sip guys.)

Last but not least, Portlanders like to bike: another mobile, mechanical technology.  We have a whole culture of hipsters riding fixies (fixed, single-gear bikes), and they speak the same language as the food cart folks.  One of the paramount DIY triumphs of the Schwinn and Bakfiets crowd is the brewery-on-a-bike.  Hopworks, a local brewery, has outfitted a bike with kegs.  All it takes to set up a beer garden is curb and a kickstand.

If they can do that, surely we can make a great-looking book cart into a mobile branch library.

Original image (and more like it) here.

Bright spot

Tillamook County, OR still has a bookmobile.  I think this is the only time I’ve ever looked at the comments on an article in The Oregonian and not seen anything nasty.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if every town had a bookmobile?  Not just the ones without libraries, but every one?  To deliver books to seniors and daycares and other house-bound or otherwise indisposed folks?  Isn’t it interesting how when you make books available–especially if you curate them, treat them right, show them off, make them special–people read?

Tool of the day: Readability

I downloaded this great tool a year ago, and I just recently remembered to start using it again.  It reformats badly-designed, small-print, ad-laden, and otherwise hard-to-read web pages to a nice, simple, easy-to-read format.  Like so:

Before:  small text, distracting sidebar ads

After:  ahhhhhhhhh.

Download Readability for free here.

Crossing the valley

Kevin Kelly comments on how organizations can weather “suboptimal” periods by sharing knowledge and resources:

A motley caravan of firms can cross a suboptimal stretch with hope. Banding together buys their networks several things. First, it allows knowledge about the terrain to be shared. Some firm riding point might discover a small hill of opportunity. Settling there allows small oases of opportunity to be created. If enough intermediate oases can be found or made, the long journey can become a series of shorter hops along an archipelago of small successes.

Libraries, universities, publishers, governments: take note.