Knovvmads Magazine

Libraries in Laundromats and More: Meeting People Where They Are

Libraries Without Borders US

[…] So, how do we at Libraries Without Borders US transform the image of the library from an esoteric, austere building into a community learning hub, accessible for and serving all? Well, we first analyze why the individuals in the specific community we are targeting might not be visiting their local library. For some constituents, there may be a library in their zip code, but it’s still too far out from their usual routine, and nothing incentivizes that first visit. For others, maybe it just so happens that the local branch is particularly small and underfunded. Others may not even realize the library, with its plentitude of services, is there. Others might not get off work until after the library has already closed. The list goes on. What then?

LWB US pondered these questions in 2015 and decided to bring the library to the people, rather than push the people to visit their local library. Our first success was the Wash and Learn Initiative (WALI), a program that brings library services to laundromats—places where people happen to have a free hour that they’d otherwise use to just wait on laundry machines. Through partnerships with local libraries and other, similarly minded organizations, we’ve set up storytimes, tax prep, resume coaching, ESL classes, and more in these small spaces. […]

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