About the Program

Developed and funded by Redbox, and managed by OCLC in partnership with Project for Public Spaces, Outside the Box is an innovative program that brings people together for free, fun entertainment events in their local community. When people connect, communities benefit—and as trusted community anchors, public libraries are central to Outside the Box efforts. This year, up to 20 U.S. communities will participate in Outside the Box, with the local library driving community brainstorming and planning sessions and hosting events.

Program participants will create a shared community space and hold an initial kickoff event at the site, to introduce it as a gathering place for the community. Some examples of this work:

  • An unused, grassy stretch of land outside the library becomes a small park, with benches and shade umbrellas, where people can read or visit outdoors.
  • A library parking lot is turned into a public market space for weekend use.
  • A park adjoining the library is used for a community concert or public storytelling event.

Through a competitive application process, libraries and their communities will be chosen for the program based on key characteristics such as geographic and ethnic diversity, local leadership, and innovative ideas for events and community activities. Participants selected for Outside the Box will receive

  • consultation and support from OCLC and Project for Public Spaces on event and space design, event planning and material selection
  • selection of up to $5000 in reusable materials provided by Redbox.

To get involved

  1. Take the training
  2. Conduct a brainstorming or planning session in your community, and
  3. Apply for the program.

Take the Training

Outside the Box training provides library and community partners with the information needed to guide community stakeholders through a brainstorming or planning process that leads to unique, local events. By the end of the training (approximately one hour), learners will be able to

  • identify a space near the library, on the library grounds, or in the community that can be used for ongoing public entertainment events
  • lead a community brainstorming or planning session on event/place design
  • identify at least three new community partners and an action plan for engaging with them
  • develop a list of reusable materials and features that can be used in the community space, to create a welcoming, comfortable environment (seating, tables, surface cover, shading, lighting, etc.).

There are several options for reviewing the training content, and additional resources are also included below. Please use the materials and approach that works best for your library and community.

  • Use the training viewer (presents slides and training videos, with navigation and search options)
  • Download the training slides (opens in PDF format)
  • Watch the training videos from Project for Public Spaces
  • Download the Outside the Box placemaking guide, including the placemaking questionnaire (opens in PDF format)

Apply for the Program

Up to 20 U.S. communities will be chosen to participate in the Outside the Box program based on key characteristics such as geographic and ethnic diversity, local leadership, and innovative ideas for events and community activities. Communities that aim to support the following activities will be given priority:

  • Revitalizing spaces to support activity and draw people together, and to the library
  • Creating or revitalizing spaces for use by community groups (including local arts and craftspeople, farmers, cultural organizations and community groups)
  • Activating underutilized parks and open spaces, especially those near cultural or civic institutions
  • Connecting the library with other centers of public life (colleges, theaters, galleries, museums, cultural centers, city halls, etc.), either through shared physical space or collaboration through community partnerships.

The project will seek to involve communities with an active and interested community, and preferably with existing community partners, a good working relationship with local government, and a manageable project scope with good potential for success.

Ideal applicants will have

  • completed the online training and community brainstorming session
  • a location in mind for ongoing events and community gathering
  • identified at least three community partners
  • the ability to hold an Outside the Box community event between July – October 2014
  • the ability to participate in a conference call with all selected program participants, the week of June 2 (two dates will be provided for the call, to accommodate schedules)
  • the ability to participate in consulting calls with project team regarding final event design and space layout
  • a willingness to share any survey results, photos, video and written summaries of events and program activities.

To apply for the Outside the Box program, please prepare the following:

  • a letter indicating your interest and goals for participating in the Outside the Box program, highlighting relevant activities and needs
  • summary information about your public library (service population, community makeup, etc.)
  • a map of the location you are interested in for events or for an ongoing community gathering place (site plans or a Google map view of the exact location are preferred)
  • a list of at least three community partners for your event(s)
  • examples of events that will be held in the outdoor location you have selected and ideas for your initial community event in the outdoor space
  • notes from your community brainstorming/planning session, such as number of participants in session, sites considered or evaluated, questionnaire reports and ideas discussed.

Outside the Box is a partnership of:

To learn more about the Outside the Box program, view the recent press release, or contact Jennifer Pearson, program manager, at OCLC.

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