Hennepin County, Minn.
To better connect with the immigrant community in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota, staff of Hennepin County Library trained residents from the community to become library experts and advocates, and worked with these residents to bring culturally responsive pop-up libraries into the neighborhood. The innovative program occurred from July 2015 to July 2016 and continues to inform ongoing work. Funded by the Library Services and Technology Act, Hennepin County Library staff, including a community liaison with strong ties to the local Somali population, recruited twenty people from the neighborhood to become “Volunteer Ambassadors.” Some of these volunteers had never had a library card or had limited-to-no English skills. All were given bilingual trainings in library resources. Because staff and volunteer ambassadors recommended face-to-face communication and “showing rather than telling” to establish trust with residents, Hennepin County Library designed and facilitated pop-up library experiences and brought them directly into the community. Pop-up libraries are temporary library experiences, strategically placed where a community gathers, but would not expect library services. Locations have included a mosque, a playground, an apartment building lobby, a school cafeteria and a parking lot. In pre- and post-surveys, 100% of volunteer ambassadors indicated they use the library more often after participating. Volunteer ambassadors have allowed Cedar Riverside residents to see themselves as part of the library and the library as a place for them. Through pop-up libraries, Hennepin County Library connected with 777 community members and created 181 library cards, building trust and relationships in the community.
Ms. Kelly Stade