Mini Library Camp NW – Pop-up libraries and more

pic from #libcampnw wiki

On Sat 28th January, I went up to Manchester for mini Library Camp North West, held in Madlab in the Northern Quarter. I used to be a student at the University of Manchester, so loved being back up there and doing the train journey again.

The camp was once again the unconference format, and I facilitated a session on pop-up libraries and taking the information out of the library, which I am going to summise below.

Background: At our Careers and Employability Centre, we are thinking about a pop-up information point and CV checking service in our Main Library, and in another building (mostly computers) called the Learning Centre – we are based in a different building.  We have already started holding our Advice Desk, CV Clinic appointments, and Internship and Work Experience drop-ins within the teaching areas for the different faculties, with the idea of getting out to where the students are and being more visible. I gleaned some ideas for the session from this article about Manchester Libraries, which @shedsue linked to on the libcampnw wiki.

Questions to ask include, what should be the purpose of these pop-up points? Signing up for appointments / events / newsletter? Providing handouts of resources? Quick CV check?

Some of the ideas which were discussed in the session:

  • Send out a broadcast email / social media, to let people know you’re there.
  • Position yourself where people naturally slow down. 
  • Take ideas from retail, such as not positioning yourself within the 100m ‘landing strip’ / bearing-finding area near the entrance.
  • Try to establish each person’s individual requirement as quickly as possible; e.g. post-grad funding? International student? The idea is to connect with people, however briefly – find out what they want and let them know it’s there.
  • Have lots of resources with you (face-on displays), and stuff to take away; and promotional material with web addresses etc on.
  • If you don’t have what they need, let them know they can find it in the (careers) library.
  • Make eye-contact with people – look like you’re ready to talk. Friendly and outgoing staff are good – but so is knowledge and experience. Try to entice people in with something “free”.
  • Jo Norwood (@DreamingEntity) sums this up well in this blogpost, “your goal is to draw in attention. It seems wise to me to greet people going past, to make sure you look available to talk, and to look for anyone who looks like they may want to ask something. The goal here is to get people in”.
  • Utilise Foursquare and have some kind of ‘reward’ if people check-in at the pop-up and then check-in at the main location afterwards, too.
  • One man who worked in health library (can’t remember name sorry!) said he had had some success with his “Library in a box” idea, which he takes round with him to induct students. This was one of the themes of the session, that everything you need for a library could be contained within a box, or a suitcase, that travelled round and was only transient – you had to catch it while you could. (I think @bookelfleeds does this, and also @Librarian‘s the Itinerant Traveling Poetry Library).
  • There was an example mentioned of a secretary (might have been health or law library) Inter-Library-Loaning stuff from the public library for her employer because she didn’t realise there was a library service in the organisation.
  • On the other hand, if you want to make a success of the pop-up library, you may need to have a regular slot so that people will know you are there and get used to the idea that you will be there. –> Some subject librarians who had already held drop-ins for 1-on-1 sessions for info-lit teaching, and finding resources, had been disappointed when only two showed up, and questioned whether it was worth it. However, you have still helped two students who you might not normally.
  • “Lecture shouts” – e.g. a subject librarian could go into the start or end of a lecture that has an essay deadline looming and quickly tell people of your services and how you can help. At the Careers Centre, we get our student ambassadors to do this, and find these are a very effective way to promote our workshops and events, as you have everyone’s attention – a targeted audience, and they don’t need to have read the email or be on social media, etc.
  • At Birmingham we already hold “internship and work experience drop-ins”, in spaces frequented by students, and do get quite a good turn out – this being not only from our promotion, but also from people walking past and seeing something going on. Our branded pop-up banner and some leaflets/resources are also left there when there is not an adviser present, which also lets people know that something will happen here.
  • The idea that the pop-up library should be secretive. @mainlymazza told of when she was covering a lecture and told the students about the library resources in a sort of “shh I’m not meant to tell you this but…!” – when really she was only giving legitimate information that the library held all answers for them, but they were suddenly all interested.
  • Could go out to Halls of Residence when essay deadlines are looming, though you may need to get permission. This would work well for subject librarians, with people desperate for resources, but I suggested the idea on Twitter and @careersbham and another colleague thought it was a great idea: “@careersbham on tour!”
  • Could potentially include e-resources, but wi-fi access can be a problem.
  • Idea that some students will just never use the library, and you can’t force them to.

I don’t quite know how, but somehow in the last few seconds of the session it was decided that ‘mobile sheds were the way forward’. Perhaps someone can enlighten me?!


Other sessions I went to, which others have written up in much better detail than I could remember:

  • proposed by @richardveevers – Marketing Libraries
  • proposed by @afeitar – Show or Do? – how to draw the line between spoon-feeding library users and making the library difficult to use
  • proposed by @trine3m – Library Spaces – ideas about the function of our library spaces


This entry was posted in Conference, CPD, Library Camp and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mini Library Camp NW – Pop-up libraries and more

  1. I love the idea of a mobile careers centre, or a careers centre tour, or even being able to giive every third year their own copy of some advice on making a CV, writing an application form, doing an interview, etc.

    This is totally going to be my first random idea to bring up in the office tomorrow.

  2. Jo Alcock says:

    Some fantastic ideas here Steph!

  3. Pingback: Pop! | Growing a library

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s