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Chapel Hill Public Library grant to fund mobile pop-up library

The Chapel Hill Public Library received a grant to design a pop-up library that will debut in the summer of 2017.
The Chapel Hill Public Library received a grant to design a pop-up library that will debut in the summer of 2017.

Thanks to a nearly $100,000 federal grant, the Chapel Hill Public Library will build a pop-up library to debut by late spring of 2017.

The mini-library will be a vehicle about the size of a food truck, outfitted with electricity and power as well as a sink and fridge, said Meeghan Rosen, assistant director at the library and the director of the pop-up library project. Rather than being a vehicle library patrons can board, she said, the pop-up library will be packed with library materials to be unloaded off-site.

“We think by taking library services out into the community, we can expand awareness of the library as a valuable community resource for learners of all ages,” Rosen said.

Beginning in July when the federal funds become available, Rosen said, library staff will develop a plan for pop-up library programming, training staff and volunteers.

She said the pop-up library will help transport resources to areas of the community where kids don’t have as much access to educational stimulation or transportation to the library during the summer.

“We are a learning community here, we have an awesome school system, but we can always do more to help them combat the achievement gap,” Rosen said. “We think we can help move the needle on that.”

The library will use the resources of Orange Literacy, a local nonprofit focusing on helping adults with basic reading, writing and math skills, to train staff and volunteers and create programming for the pop-up library.

“We want parents to have good reading skills, so they can read to their children,” said Alice Denson, executive director of Orange Literacy.

The total funds the library will put toward the pop-up library include $96,997 in federal grant money and $15,000 pledged by Chapel Hill’s Friends of the Library.

Costs will include the purchase and customization of the vehicle, library materials, collapsible furniture, a sound system, projection equipment and other educational supplies, Rosen said.

The library will also partner with local schools and food programs, as well as town staff from several departments.

“This is really a town project,” Rosen said. “It will be a wide-ranging group of people.”

Susan Brown, director of the library, said the library has made improvements to its interior and website and is looking forward to improving its services off-site with the pop-up library.

“Throughout the year, we could take it to the farmers’ market with farm-to-table cookbooks, we could take it to downtown events, we could bring it to campus,” she said.

“Whether we are taking it out to communities that could be classified as traditionally underserved, or whether we’re taking it to a popular community event, with both of those audiences, we would want a deeper engagement with the library.”

city@dailytarheel.com

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