The Fulton County Library System (FCLS) goes beyond serving as a hub for resources such as books and computers by providing a wide array of programming—from storytimes for children to free in-person tax assistance, and much more, for its diverse patron base. This network of public libraries expands the idea of traditional literacy to include health, emotional, digital, informational, and cultural literacy.
However, over the last few years, system-wide renovations temporarily closed many of the FCLS branches making it difficult for the libraries to continue empowering the community with their essential tools. Due to this, FCLS was looking for a creative way to remain connected with its patrons.
In the fall of 2019, CloroxPro announced their partnership with Project for Public Spaces to continue their commitment to public health, beginning with an effort to support FCLS.
“Throughout our history, we’ve never forgotten that our company is only as strong as the communities around us,” says Eric Jamison, Brand Engagement Director at CloroxPro. “That idea means going beyond creating clean and healthy environments to strengthening the social fabric of a community. We set out to work with the Fulton County Library System to create programming where people could exchange ideas and build relationships to improve the physical, social, and economic health of their communities.”
In January 2020, CloroxPro and Project for Public Spaces met with the team at FCLS to reimagine the ways that the libraries could serve patrons. FCLS Peachtree Branch Manager Amanda Densmore recalls, “After meeting with stakeholders from three Fulton County library branches including library staff, volunteer groups, and potential institutional partners, it became apparent to us and CloroxPro that a mobile library environment could help to meet people where they are and be a place where they want to share time with their neighbors.”
That’s how the idea for an All Access Library was born as a way of connecting neighbors, colleagues, and friends and empowering them to thrive as a community.
The All Access Library brings amenities and new programming to the outdoor areas of various library branches, as well as local museums, parks, and plazas. Extending FCLS’s free resources outdoors allows the community to explore all that the library has to offer and help close the gap between its services and patron access.
As the Covid-19 pandemic swept through Fulton County and the world, the idea to extend the library outdoors turned out to be a prescient choice. To gauge what the local community wanted out of the project, Project for Public Spaces and FCLS gathered ideas from pop-up boards and an online survey to fine-tune what the All Access Library could provide in terms of programming and amenities. Through this process, it became clear that people wanted the mobile library environment to support programming focused on wellness literacy at the Southeast branch, foster entrepreneurship at the Metropolitan branch, and reconnect families at the Central Library.
From there, Project for Public Spaces administered a $70,000 grant from CloroxPro to design the mobile library environment, which would come to include comfortable seating for people of all ages, an Imagination Playground set to foster creative exploration for kids, pop-up tents, and other library must-haves like storage, custom banners, signage, and more. These amenities will support bringing FCLS’s fun and educational experiences outdoors and on the road throughout Fulton County. The All Access Library’s activities and service offerings will vary based on the accompanying program and location, and will include basics such as signing up for library cards, borrowing books and periodicals, playing board and lawn games, and learning to use the library’s digital resources and laptops. The grant from CloroxPro has enabled FCLS to share its unique library presence wherever it is needed and ensures the patron-library relationship continues through closures and reopenings.
Altogether, the improvements greatly increased the FCLS’ visibility and community awareness of their offerings. When the All Access Library launched in April 2022 during National Library Week, we saw first-hand how quickly kids and adults took to enjoying the programming and new amenities. After a celebratory lunch, adults danced to a live DJ and partook in a cubism-inspired painting class, while kids played with foam blocks and enjoyed storytelling, face painting, and puppet and magician shows. Music from a flutist floated through the space, while older adults played rounds of literary-inspired bingo.
“We’re very much indebted for this partnership opportunity—everyone had a great time!” says Gayle Hunter Holloman, the Executive Director of the Fulton County Library System.