Embracing the Long Game

Don’t miss this great article by Toby Greenwalt:


The Idea Box7 is a nine-by-thirteen-foot space located in the opening vestibule of OPPL’s main library building. Originally designed as a coffee shop, the space is now a constantly changing interactive environment for art and conversation. Unlike a digital media lab or a makerspace, however, the Idea Box is focused on single-serving experiences. One month might have patrons rearranging small LED lights to create constellations on the walls. Another month might have a visitor posing for a green-screen photo with an oversized library card, and choosing their favorite exotic location to have superimposed in the background. These individual contributions accumulate over the run of the installation. Much of the joy, for staff and patrons alike, comes from seeing the space change over time.

The genesis of Idea Box came during the library’s last strategic planning session, fueled by a library brainstorming initiative they called Spark8. Monica Harris, OPPL’s customer service manager, described the process: “We had people from all over the library looking at crazy things. One of our assistant directors, Jim Madigan, said, ‘We’re very focused on art here in Oak Park. We have a lot of great art in the library. We have one art gallery, but what if we open a second art space. We could call it the Idea Box.’ The Spark Team liked that idea, and they ran with it. They said, ‘OK, we’ll call it Idea Box, we’ll put things in there, we’re not entirely sure what’s happening with it yet, but I think it sounds really good.’”9