Using pop-ups for community engagement

Surveys and workshops are great ways to better understand your community, but if you're looking for something a little more creative, you can't go past a pop-up. Check out this mobile library cart we designed and built for Upper Hutt Library!

In 2021, Upper Hutt City Council was searching for a better way to find out what their community wanted from local libraries. Rather than asking the community to come to them, StudioC suggested the Council should take the library to the community - using this unique mobile library cart! The pop-up cart has been a great tool to have conversations and gain insights about what people want from their library.

StudioC designed and built this cart in-house. We also trained Upper Hutt library staff to conduct empathy conversations, so that they could gather data themselves. The cart can be taken into any community or public space, such as retirement villages, parks and schools. The cart makes the library more visible in the community and it reaches people who would not normally come into the library.

People can check books out from the cart or join the library, but the main purpose of the cart is to have conversations and learn more about the community's library needs.

The cart has vertical display panels to capture written feedback and ideas, as well as a fold-down table and chairs for people to sit and have a chat. It packs up and down and is on lockable wheels for easy transportation.

The cart was gifted the name "Manaaki cart" by the Council's iwi representative. The name embodies the vision of the library to care and nurture the community. This also reflects their way of engaging with the community: to truly value and care about what people say.

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at how we built the cart.

Pop-ups are a great way to get out into your community and have a kōrero with them to learn more about their needs. It will make your services more visible and more accessible to new parts of the community. Other creative methods to consider include a mobile bus with fold-out furniture and shipping container exhibitions + public work areas. Get in touch if you'd like to hear more about how to use pop-ups for your community engagement!

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