February 16, 2018

Urban Librarians Unite Plants Mini Libraries, Plans Conference


ULU mini library at Brooklyn Public Library's closed Red Hook branch

ULU mini library at Brooklyn Public Library’s closed Red Hook branch

Urban Librarians Unite (ULU) collected more than 20,000 children’s books to help replace library collections damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The library advocacy and support group, founded by 2012 LJ Mover & Shaker Christian Zabriskie, also placed Mini Libraries in front of libraries that were closed by storm damage. Locations include Queens Library branches in Broad Channel and Seaside, and Brooklyn Public Library branches at Redhook, Coney Island, and Gerristen Beach.

The mini libraries hold about 100 books at a time, and ULU doesn’t expect any of them back.

“Our Mini Libraries will suffer from the same limitations as any little library,” ULU said on its website. “They could never be mistaken as an alternative to the branch libraries they substitute and intended to support. They do offer some comfort and succor, especially to kids and families, and they remind people that libraries–and their librarians–are nimble, caring and quick to respond to the needs of their communities.”

Meanwhile, ULU hopes that the minis will evolve, and is looking at ways to augment them, whether that is counters, lighting, Library Boxes, or even visiting librarians (something that may become more viable as the weather warms).

The mini libraries fits with many of the other initiatives ULU has undertaken in the past, from a mass hug for the NYPL’s Schwartzman Building to a march of zombie librarians over the Brooklyn Bridge to a “book seeding” campaign to protest proposed cuts to New York libraries. They are colorful, and highly visible to the general public.

However, ULU is also planning some behind-the-scenes work—geared toward the support aspect of its mission rather than the advocacy piece—in the form of its first conference, which will be focused on the issues of front line information professionals in urban areas.

To be held at the Dr. S. Stevan Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library, the event will take place on April 5. The theme is “Living in Interesting Times,” and topics under discussion may include teens in gangs, eBooks in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, innovative outreach, job information services, and more.

Peter Bromberg, Associate Director at the Princeton Public Library in Princeton, NJ and a 2008 LJ Mover and Shaker, will present the keynote. Other featured speakers include Steve Teeri (Detroit Public Library), founder of the DPL HYPE Makerspace; Rebecca Lubin (Albany Public Library); and Wick Thomas (Kansas City Public Library), President of Empowering Queer Activists and Leaders (EQUAL).

The event is sponsored by The Leadership and Management Section of NYLA, NYLA, Brooklyn Public Library, Queens Library, and New York Public Library.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Executive Editor of Library Journal.

The Latest Trends in Library Design
Hosted in partnership with Salt Lake County Library and The City Library—at SLCo’s Viridian Center—the newest installment of our library building and design event will let you dig deep with architects, librarians, and vendors to explore building, renovating, and retrofitting spaces to better engage your community.