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Bookbox brings mobile library to market square park in Ohio City

Market Square Park, which recently received a $1.5 million makeover from the City of Cleveland, was always intended to serve as a community hub where Ohio City residents and visitors could gather. Now, thanks to the Cleveland Public Library, there is another reason to do so.In recent years, Cleveland Public Library has expanded its community outreach efforts. One example is the library's new Tech Central at its main branch, which offers card holders the ability to use the latest digital devices, such as tablets and e-readers.Now the BookBox, a mobile unit of the Cleveland Public Library that connects with users in the community, brings CPL's outreach efforts to Market Square Park. The unit, which is stationed at Market Square Park and will open this month, offers reading materials, access to electronic books and programming in the park.The BookBox was developed by architect Cristian Smitt of Santiago, Chile, who spent six months in Cleveland developing his idea for a portable, changeable retail unit. Smitt traveled to Northeast Ohio as part of the Cleveland Foundation'sCreative Fusion program. Eventually, his ShopBox gave birth to the BookBox, too.The BookBox will be staffed by Cleveland Public Library on Saturdays during the summer and fall. In the future, CPL could expand staffing to days that the West Side Market is open (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) based upon demand. The library also offers free wireless when the BookBox is open."This is an experiment and pilot project to bring the library to people in places where they already gather," says Greg Peckham, Managing Director of LAND Studio, a nonprofit organization that participated in the project. "Instead of bringing people to the library, how do you bring the library to people?"The BookBox was made possible by a grant from the Creative Fusion program, which supports international artist-in-residence programs. CLEVELANDtm (teach and make), comprised of PlayhouseSquare, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, and LAND studio, secured the Creative Fusion grant. CLEVELANDtm's goal is to "bridge diverse cultures, expand the collective imagination, and promote global perspectives in the local community through the lens of design," according to LAND Studio's website.

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