The PPL “Box Truck”, with its no-frills appearance and utilitarian design, may not be equipped with the latest technology but its cargo section is loaded with precious materials that connect curious minds to the things they love: Literature, poetry, mythology, music, movies, and much more are transported to seniors residing at assisted living facilities. This fabulous PPL pop-up service is managed by Casey Grant, Outreach & Technology Librarian.
To learn more about Casey’s work, check out this Q&A:
What is a Library Pop-Up, also referred to as Library Outreach?
This service ensures that people who don’t have the ability to physically come to the library are still able to access library resources. Our former outreach coordinator created the foundation for our outreach efforts but due to the pandemic, the program was suspended. I slowly reintroduced the program in 2020 following her successful model. Currently, we serve a dozen assisted living communities in the Greater Portland area.
Each community served is unique. How do you choose what resources to bring to each location?
Each location usually has a population with a strong preference for certain types of materials. Based on overall requests, I try to curate a variety of materials that best match common asks. For example, at one particular location, I know to pack more mysteries, historical fiction, and science fiction because the residents at that particular site enjoy those genres. Residents can also place requests with me for specific items or preferred formats such as large print or audiobooks, that I will bring to them on my next visit. I keep a lot of lists!
I’m also able to tell which materials to bring based on which bin is the emptiest when I pack up to leave. When I come back to the library with a very light non-fiction bin, I know that the residents at that location really like their non-fiction!
What is most rewarding about this role?
The residents are so grateful and appreciative of this service. The conversations I have with the people I connect with are so gratifying and I love hearing how this library service impacts their lives. To be part of this experience is amazing. Several residents have told me that the Pop-up Library is the highlight of their month, which makes my work so fulfilling.
What is the most challenging part of the work?
This service requires a significant amount of time and effort to ensure that each location is getting the attention it deserves. Each place is unique and meeting those needs while maintaining consistency is a constant balancing act. Luckily, after over two years of managing this service, I’m starting to find a rhythm!
What advice would you give someone creating an outreach program at their own library?
A successful library pop-up requires a significant commitment. My advice would be to build the program slowly and gradually implement new services and sites based on what is working and what isn’t. Good communication is so critical! So much of my work is listening to patron feedback to guide the level of service the Library can offer.
At this time PPL’s Pop-Up service is at full capacity and we are unable to add additional locations to the schedule.
Thank you, Casey, for all the thoughtful effort you put into this greatly appreciated service!