Dallas Public Library Parklet

Pint-Sized Public Library Offers Books & Whimsy at PARK(ing) Day Dallas


Dallas Public Library Parklet

This is a guest blog post written by Mark Gilman from the Dallas Public Library, one of the largest public library facilities in the country. 

The J. Erik Jonsson Central Library is about a lot more than just books. We are made up of nine floors, organized around subject areas like fine arts and humanities, business and technology, social sciences and genealogy.

We offer one of the most extensive children’s collections in the region. Our Dallas History and Archives division, which is set to reopen soon in a newly renovated space, preserves a vast amount of local history in a variety of formats available nowhere else, including a collection of historic photographs with prints available for purchase.

Each floor houses passionate subject specialist staff whose focus is increasingly shifting towards engaging with the community, creating spaces for informal learning, and fostering various forms of literacy through initiatives like our partnership with the City’s Office of Economic Development, The Dallas B.R.A.I.N. (Business & Information Resource Center) which promotes entrepreneurial literacy, or our Patent & Trademark Resource Center (a partnership with the USPTO). In the evenings we’ve been known to host open mic nights, improv classes, and workshops on urban biking.

PARK(ing) Day Dallas calls out to us because the Library understands the importance of whimsy.

It understands sharing—arguably, collaborative consumption was invented by libraries. We also understand that the world is changing rapidly. Individuals and groups are striving toward greater well-being and wholeness and we want to be a partner in that process.

Our participation in this event provides an opportunity to underscore our commitments to those values.

We had an amazing time participating in last year’s PARK(ing) Day. We relished the opportunity to get outside the walls of our building and have some great conversations with people!

Once again, we want to remind folks that we are here and we are of the present and the future. Collaboration is in our institutional DNA. We want to be a part of the lives of people who live and work in our immediate neighborhood, which is basically downtown and all that adjoins it.

Dallas Public Library Parklet

Our PARK(ing) Day team, which draws from all Central Library units will use old-style wooden book trucks to provide a protective border and to define our space. We will have free books, coloring, a caricature artist, seeds from our seed library—and more—plus a deeply welcoming staff who want to talk with you about your interests and passions and possibly help you with problem-solving, which is pretty much our specialty, as reference library staff.

Dallas Public Library Parklet

Our resources—now including over a hundred licensed databases like Lynda.com, DemographicsNow, ReferenceUSA and ESRI Arc Desktop— are pretty deep, going way beyond what Google can provide.

Our curatorial function has not changed. What’s emerging is our focus on promoting a broadly defined conception of literacy, stepping up our game around community engagement, and providing structures to help people improve their lives.

We need our community to be a part of the process, as we transform in response to a rapidly changing world so we can’t wait to see you at PARK(ing) Day Dallas 2016!

6 Things to Consider When Planning Your PARK

PARK(ing) Day is an annual celebration of space that gives artists, designers, businesses and residents a chance to transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. This one day event is meant to inspire creativity and test innovative ideas for reclaiming car-centric spaces for people.

There are no limits to the ideas and ways to transform a parking space. Though the concept of a 9’x18’ PARK is simple, the sheer number of options and ideas can often leave you overwhelmed or worse, in over your head. It is good to remember that your PARK can be as simple as a place to sit, read, talk or relax.

1. Site Constraints

Dimensions. The dimensions for a typical parking space are 9 feet by 18 feet. If you are planning two spaces, you should plan for 9 feet by 40 feet. When you are considering ground cover that equals 168 square feet and 360 square feet, respectively. (*note: If you are planning to use sand, gravel, or other loose materials, you will need to use a liner to allow you to remove these materials easily.)

Cant. The street is not a flat surface. Streets are designed and constructed with a curve (called a “cant”) to allow stormwater to drain quickly. If your idea requires a flat surface or if you have vertical structures, take the slope of the road into account and plan to bring some material to make onsite adjustments and to allow you to level or anchor your structure(s).

Curb Height. The curb varies between 6 and 8 inches above the level of the street. A seamless transition between the curb and your PARK is not necessary, but it can be used to the advantage or your PARK’s design.

Barriers. it is highly encouraged to incorporate a barrier between their PARK and the street. And, if your PARK is next to a parking space not designated for PARK(ing) Day, to add a barrier between your PARK and the space next to you. This increases your visibility to drivers, and helps visitors to your PARK feel safe.

2. Programming

Activities. PARK(ing) Day starts at 11am and ends at 6pm. Plan some type of activity in your PARK. That can be as simple as providing seating, books, arts & crafts, or board games. Plan for people to use your park, and give them something to do or talk about while they are there.

Handouts. There are restrictions for any signage, food, or promotional materials that can be distributed at PARK(ing) Day. Please see our 2015 Participant Handbook for a detailed description. If you violate any of these policies, PARK(ing) Day staff will ask you to stop or remove your PARK.

Neighbors. Let us know what you plan to do! We have live entertainment lined up for the event. If you do not want your park next to loud noise or if you would prefer to be adjacent to another PARK(ing) Day participant, let us know. We will do our best to accommodate you.

3. Materials

Cost. Creating a PARK can take both time and a money. The good thing is, you get to determine how much time and money you are willing to invest in your PARK. Set your budget early, to help you make good decisions in the planning and building process.

Recycle and reuse. Ways to reduce cost and make building your PARK easier are to use materials you already have sitting around, look for salvaged materials, and ask for donations. Since this is a one day event, have a plan for your materials after the event is over. Either reuse the materials or structures for something else, or plan on returning them to the original donors.

Think light. Large or heavy structures will be difficult to set-up, and even more exhausting to take down. We advise only using parts that 2 individuals can lift.

4. Setting Up Your Park

Transporting your PARK. To make set-up easy for you and your neighboring PARKs, plan to bring all of your materials in one car/truck load. The street will not be closed before, during or after the event and there will be normal weekday traffic.

Unloading. Do NOT block traffic to unload your materials. Pull into a parking space adjacent to your assigned PARK, and get your materials out of your vehicle as quickly (and safely) as possible. Once everything is unloaded, move your vehicle so that other PARKS can unload as well.

Assembly. Once your car/truck is stored elsewhere, begin assembling your park. Practice assembling your park before the PARK(ing) Day. This will let you know how many people and what tools you need to bring with you.

5. Taking Down Your Park

Disassembly. Practice this before the event as well! You should consider incorporating storage for the tools you need to disassemble your PARK into the PARK design so that you have what you need on hand for repairs throughout the day.

Loading. To reiterate, Main Street will not be closed to traffic during or after the event. If you are using a vehicle to transport your materials away from the event, you may need to pull into your own parking space to load materials. You can also coordinate with your neighboring PARKs to make loading easy. Do NOT block traffic to load your car/truck.

Clean-up. Leave no trace of your PARK in the parking space. Bring shovels, brooms, gloves, trash bags and whatever else you may need to pick up after your PARK.

6. Weather

PARK(ing) Day is an outdoor event, and will take place rain or shine. Be sure to watch the weather forecast for September 18th and take it into consideration.

To reserve your PARK(ing) spot, register for PARK(ing) Day Dallas 2015 here! Our first participant meeting is Thursday, August 6th at City Tavern! We look forward to meeting you and having a blast this September. For any questions or concerns about PARK(ing) Day Dallas 2015, please contact us.

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