Member Highlight: Collingswood Public Library’s Awesome Box

Collingswood PL’s Awesome Box

Do your community members like to strike up conversations about library materials they love? Do you wish there was a way to share your students’ and patrons’ enthusiasm for books, movies and music with all the people your library serves? Check out Awesome Box.

Awesome Box is a collaboration between the Harvard Library Innovation Lab and public, school, and academic libraries. It allows everyone to see which library materials their neighbors, friends, and classmates think are awesome.

The Awesome Box is a low-maintenance way for libraries to bring an extra element of delight to library visits. There are Awesome Boxes in libraries all over the Garden State (we’ve included a list below). We spoke with Collingswood Public Library’s Head of Access and Technical Services, Carissa Schanely, about her library’s Awesome Box.

Q: How did Collingswood get involved with using an Awesome Box?
A: Our Director, Brett Bonfield, saw information about it on the Harvard Library Innovation Lab’s website, and approached staff about launching an Awesome Box of our own back in 2013. I really liked the idea, so our team pursued it. The process was very straightforward and easy: we just contacted the Awesome Box team and gave them access to our catalog so people could place holds directly from entries on our Awesome Box site.

Q: So how does the Awesome Box work?
A: It’s so simple. We have a decorated box out at the Circulation Desk. Patrons put items they loved in the box, I scan them, and they appear on the Awesome Box site for the library. 

Collingswood PL’s Awesome Box Collingswood PL’s Awesome Box

Circulation staff prompt members to add items to the box, too, which fosters positive staff-community interactions and leads to good conversations. Even longtime users love it when they’re reminded of its existence. I use it as a media advisory tool on the circ desk all the time, but I’m not sure if people consult the Awesome Box site for media suggestions.

Q: What’s been the public response to the Awesome Box?
A: The Awesome Box has been a feature at Collingswood for nearly two years, but we find value in re-advertising it, because it always seems new and wonderful to people who haven’t used it before.

Other NJ Library Awesome Boxes: