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Arlington Public Library: Thousands Visited Ballston Library Pop-Up

Arlington Public Library could create more pop-up libraries after receiving warm reviews and lots of visits at its Ballston experiment last month.

Officials said a total of 2,700 people stopped by the space inside the Ballston Quarter mall (4238 Wilson Blvd) while the pop-up was open over the course of the month, with some visiting more than once.

Patrons who visited the pop-up in July could check out and return books, and explore an interactive book nook with adjustable lights, sounds, and color.

Library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist didn’t have data on how many used the interactive space, but did give “overwhelmingly” positive feedback about the pop-up in general.

“Patrons were impressed with the new and diverse collection of titles we had available for checkout, made LOTS of suggestions for where else we should do a pop-up and were thrilled to be able to drop off their returns right in the mall,” he said.

The library also signed 80 Arlington residents up for library cards at the pop-up — a number Sundqvist said was high considering summer is the slow season and the little library was not open weekends.

He added that the mall provided the space for free. The library paid under $10,000 to fund equipment and staffing from its existing operating budget — not the collection budget which officials asked to increase after funding cuts last year.

This is the county’s second pop-up library after “Connection Crystal City” opened two years ago — and officials extended its opening through 2019. Sundqvist said comparing the two is difficult, however, because Connection is a full-service library while the Ballston pop-up was designed to generate awareness of the library and its various programs for newcomers in the area.

When asked if the Ballston experience has spurred future pop-ups, Sundqvist didn’t rule it out but that nothing is planned yet.

“The library will continue to experiment with low-cost pop-ups if given the right opportunity,” he said. “It’s a great way to engage the local community, reach new residents who might not be aware of what the library has to offer and to partner with local businesses and civic organizations. Our goal is to connect people with ideas and to create space for reading and culture.”

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