Pop-up libraries, in centers where the community comes together, is a growing trend among librarians and other organizations to help bring in learning centers while doing daily chores. It a very exciting initiative, started by Libraries Without Borders and has been tested in two cities in the United States: Detroit, Michigan and the Bronx, in New York City. If you do not have the leisure of owning your own washer and dryer, you can only imagine how tedious it can be waiting for your laundry to finish at a public laundromat. But there is a new resource that makes doing weekly chores a learning and growing experience for so many within these inner cities that rely on these places, due to weekly trips to them while waiting patiently until the wash and dry cycle have ceased.
Thankfully, Libraries Without Borders teamed with other organizations to continue growing this project. Currently, “Wash & Learn provides a Detroit librarian with books, laptops, Wi-Fi access, and more to each of the participating laundromats.” As John Carr, program officer describes, you have a captive audience – while they wait for 2 hours, and thus you have the ability for community engagement. And what a resource it is!
The program began in Detroit in the summer of 2017. Currently there are 3 participating laundromats. Carr hopes to involve all these places in the future.
He has partnered with numerous organizations, including: the Knight foundation, United Way of South East Michigan, Laundry Cares Foundation, the Detroit Public Library system, Southwest Solutions, the Detroit Mayor’s Office, Coin Laundromat Association, Too Small to Fail, and Brilliant Detroit. In this way they hope to make the experience for those often-missed segments of the population gain access to what others’ have and be able to grow from the experience.
It is an initiative I hope to see spread among numerous community facilities in the coming months and years. Regardless of what others say, libraries are blossoming, and taking their message to the streets, to the areas that otherwise might be overlooked. And isn’t that that population we wish to reach out to and to serve?
Reading is magical – it opens the door to so many worlds. This program allows children and adults to explore such worlds and become library users – hopefully for their entire life. As librarians, we need to seek out the resources we have beyond the institutions we work for. We need to encourage all who want knowledge that our door is always open. Programs such as this bring that message to those who need it, and may not have access to a “traditional” library. It is an amazing program, one I would encourage anyone to think of. How do we reach out to those who do not have access to the resources we often times take for granted?
–Molly Brown, ILN Content Officer