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.


One thought on “Book cart/food cart/pop-up library precedents

  1. […] life, learningspaces, we could do better) 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.  […]

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