During my time at SXSW, I stopped by the LABRARY, which describes itself as “a pop-up experimental library.” Born out of a seminar at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the LABRARY popped up on a museum lawn a block from the epicenter of SXSW’s frantic activity. The inflatable, zip-up reading room provides a welcome contrast, because once inside, it’s easy to concentrate on one thing.
Calling it a pop-up library is a little misleading, though, because it was really a collection of experimental products for the modern library (because design schools eventually produce products). Cool products revolving around ways we interact with media and technology, such as a manual typewriter attached to a Mac, a machine that prints out the Constitution on a roll of receipt paper when you push a button, and the “Electric Campfire,” a box powered by marine batteries where people gather round to charge their devices.
Conceptually, there’s a certain parallel with efforts of pop-up community building, such as the recent Creative Interventions Tour announced by Knight Foundation and artist Hunter Franks, and from what I saw, kids gravitated to the objects. But the LABRARY installations work best when integrated with an existing public library, something they are doing in Boston.