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Spotted at the Parmley Billings Library in Billings, MT / Photo: PPS

Far from the whisper-quiet halls of yesterday, contemporary libraries are blazing new trails as vibrant hubs of civic activity. Through a new community initiative, “Outside the Box,”  PPS is working with Redbox and OCLC to bring people together for free, fun, public entertainment experiences in the public spaces in and around their libraries. We’ve been working with local library staff in five pilot communities over the past few months to facilitate Placemaking workshops, and are excited to see things kick into high gear this summer as planning turns into action!

“Public libraries were chosen as a launching pad for ‘Outside the Box’ because they are trusted institutions in local neighborhoods,” said Chrystie Hill, Community Relations Director for OCLC. “Like Redbox, libraries are committed to providing access to popular content and programs, to engaging and building communities, and contributing to local development. We’re thrilled to bring five leading libraries together with Redbox and the Project for Public Spaces to kick off this innovative program.”

“Outside the Box” was developed and funded by Redbox in order to provide communities with a variety of resources to produce fun and meaningful entertainment experiences. Through the program, Redbox is providing participating communities with event resources as well as local marketing support. Our role, along with OCLC, has been to help each community to plan an event that will maximize the potential of the library as a public space, and to ensure active collaboration amongst community members.

This summer and fall, each community will design and host entertainment events ranging from arts festivals to concerts, outdoor movies and more. Chosen based on key characteristics such as geographic and ethnic diversity, median household income, and local leadership, the five partner communities and libraries include:

“Entertainment provides a way for people to connect with each other and the world around them,” said Kiera Hynninen, Redbox senior vice president of marketing. “And we know that when people are more socially interconnected, communities thrive.  Through ‘Outside the Box,’ Redbox will support neighbors in finding more ways to connect with each other, and we hope this will have a lasting impact, well beyond the program.”

“Many libraries, including those participating in ‘Outside the Box,’ have been totally transformed over the past few decades,” noted Elena Madison, who is heading up the project on PPS’s end. “We’re excited to be able help library staff to capitalize on the unique aspects of their buildings and public spaces as they continue to explore new ways to thrive as community anchors. By incorporating Placemaking into the planning of the ‘Outside the Box’ events, our hope is that each community will emerge from this experience with a stronger sense of place that can be built on in the future.”

We’re thrilled to be working with Redbox and OCLC to launch “Outside the Box.” Libraries are ideal platforms for community Placemaking, because they are shared and loved by neighbors of all different walks of life. What starts at the library can transform an entire community!