For some reason, I have a real thing for, well, this kind of thing:
The library asks a question, and tries to get people to write and post their answers.
Here are some of the ones I’ve done:
Books and Robots
We’re currently asking a question based on the theme of Silicon Valley Reads (a one city, one book program, only with multiple cities. More like a one region, one book really.) The question is “Books and technlogy, friends or foes?’ Patrons can choose to write on a book or robot, which were cut out of colored paper using the children’s department’s die cutter. While the robots are disappearing frequently, they’re not reappearing on the discussion board. I think people just like robots. It is Silicon Valley, after all.
What Would You Grow?
Shortly after I started our seed library, I cut out some leaves with the question, “If you could grow anything, what would you grow?” I put some by the gardening books and some by the reference desk, with instructions to drop in a box near the seed library (my secret trick to get people to figure out we had a seed library). This one actually got a decent number of responses. This year I finally got around to putting them up. My favorites:
Patron Driven Collection Development (aka What’s Your Favorite Book?)
At my other library, we prompted patrons for purchasing suggestions using post-it notes and an easel. We had a series of questions over a few months, and didn’t just look for collection suggestions, we also wanted their input on the use of some discretionary funding earmarked for furniture, etc. We got a lot of responses! This library has a single point service desk, and the question was displayed there, so there was a lot of foot traffic, by people who were thinking about the library’s collection (because they had just picked out books or movies), and it was something to do while waiting. Transcription here: Whats your favorite book answers August 2013.
Here are some other people’s takes on this kind of thing:
People add tags describing or drawing something they’re grateful for. A bit saccharine maybe, but I think they look really awesome.
Draw the Bay
The Exploratorium, a crazy-cool very hands-on museum in San Francisco, had this prompt to draw the bay. They scan the results and rotate them through a digital display.
Crowd-Sourced Christmas Tree
Isn’t that a beautiful tree?
It’s actually decorated with paper cranes, folded from wishes for peace from people all around the world. The project is called the World Tree of Hope, and it’s a gift from the Rainbow World Fund.
Voting with Your Dollars
Tip jars in cafes prompt customers to vote with their money. This one is a trivia question, but opinion questions (e.g. Android or iPhone, Tupac or Biggie) also work.
Photos in order of appearance
SVR Board Photo by Me
Seed Library/Leaves Photos by Me
What’s Your Favorite Book by Me
Photo: Cafe Catz Gratitude Tree by Flickr User eekim
Draw the Bay Card Photo by Me
Photos: World Tree of Hope by World Rainbow Fund
Photo: Birch Cafe, via What’s Your System on Tumblr