When it comes to getting patrons to visit, librarians are using some unconventional thinking these days.
Case in point: Last month, a Chicago-area library installed a 9-foot-tall, 150-pound statue of the Incredible Hulk to help promote a new 3D printer, comic book-making equipment, and an expanded collection of graphic novels.
Bringing the Hulk to the Northlake Public Library was the brainchild of Tom Mukite, who first proposed the idea after joining the library’s board in 2012.
To purchase a statue of the comic book hero—and digital design equipment, so that patrons could create heroes of their own—Northlake gave crowd-funding a try. The library initially missed its fundraising goal, but the campaign, ultimately, paid off.
Northlake’s unusual request had piqued the interest of myriad bloggers and mainstream media, including The Guardian online, Entertainment Weekly and Maxim Magazine, among others.
It also got the attention of a California-based businessman with a Hulk on his hands. Steve Williams, owner of L.A. Boxing in Orange, CA, stepped up to donate his own massive Hulk statue, which was originally produced to promote the 2008 movie The Incredible Hulk. The statue had since been stationed outside Williams’ gym.
Going Beyond Bruce Banner
While it’s easy to focus all the attention on that big, green statue, the real story is about the community—especially the younger members, who now likely have a very different impression of their local library.
As for those new graphic novels? In the hands of the reluctant reader, they may well be a means to more expansive reading habits down the road. Finding a compelling entry point into the universe of literature and the natural fun of great stories is the key to inspiring a lifelong love for reading.
Libraries succeed when they adapt to meet new needs. Like the Northlake Public Library, they thrive when they seek new opportunities to connect with the communities they serve.
And when they empower would-be readers to think differently about libraries in general? They become superheroes.