Library Foundation for Sarasota County raises $125,000 for pop-up mobile library for underserved communities

Donors and Selby Foundation provide the funds

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The Library Foundation for Sarasota County has granted $125,000 to Sarasota County’s public library system to fund a fully equipped mobile Pop-Up Library, the Foundation has announced.

“This customized outreach vehicle will be the first of its kind in Sarasota County, bringing the library’s technology, books, and programs to communities with limited access to library resources,” a news release notes.

“The Pop-Up Library is made possible by the generosity of Library Foundation donors and a $50,000 capping grant from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, whose philanthropic contributions total $3,000,000 annually for scholarships and grants benefitting the Sarasota community,” the release adds.

“The Pop-Up Library extends the library’s reach beyond its physical branches to serve everyone in our community,” said Alisa Mitchell, the Library Foundation’s executive director, in the release. “We deeply appreciate our donors and the Selby Foundation for making this outreach possible,”

“In addition to providing traditional books and materials, the Pop-Up Library will serve as a mobile Wi-Fi center, offer employment services and STEM-based makerspaces, and deliver library programming specific to children, families, and senior citizens,” the release adds.

Staffed with a full-time librarian and an outreach specialist, the Pop-Up Library will operate five to six days per week, “with a staggered schedule of nights and weekends,” the release notes. “The pop-up vehicle will allow our staff to take library resources to underserved communities throughout Sarasota County,” said Renee Di Pilato, director of the county’s Libraries and Historical Resources Department, in the release. “We are grateful to the Library Foundation and Selby Foundation for supporting such a worthwhile expansion of library services,” she added in the release.

A document she provided to the County Commission earlier this year explains, “Pop‐up libraries are collections of library resources that can be taken wherever community members might be. A familiar version of a pop‐up library is a bookmobile, but the concept has evolved to include book bikes, lightweight vans, and other small vehicles. Many current pop‐up libraries provide a variety of popular library resources. Book collections, hotspots, computers, library equipment, and library staff can go on the road to provide story times at preschools; book discussions at adult living facilities; and job search and homework help, digital literacy assistance, and books in neighborhood community centers. Pop‐up libraries can also educate the community about systemwide library services at school events, farmers’ markets, and other community events.”

Di Pilato and her staff produced the document, titled Exploring Alternative Library Services, following research they undertook into potential new county services.

Since its founding in 2011, the nonprofit Library Foundation for Sarasota County has raised more than $8 million in private funds for the benefit of Sarasota County public libraries, the release points out. To learn more about the Library Foundation for Sarasota County and how someone can support its mission, visit SarasotaLibraryFoundation.org or call 941-404-3139.

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