From Street Reference organizer Brandon Weigel:
In 2009, five U of T library school students and a handful of librarians from across the GTA took to the streets to raise money, fight AIDS in Africa, and challenge public perceptions of librarianship. Armed only with laptops, wireless internet, and some good open-access resources, they set up an outdoor reference desk on Bloor Street, answering any and all questions put to them by passersby.
It was a big success: we raised over $800 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Dare to Remember campaign, answered more than 65 questions (about everything from downtown directions, to the history of music, to immigration policy), and surprised a lot of people with the fact that librarians actually do this. We succeeded, we hope, in giving people a new impression of what libraries are for.
We’ve seen a lot of excitement from a lot of librarians, and many have asked about doing their own Street Reference dare. Well, Dare season is coming up, and we’re hoping to make things bigger. I’d like to ask librarians across the province to join the team, grab a few friends and colleagues, and hit the streets – between October 19 and December 1st (World AIDS Day) – to get out there, do some good in the world, and to explore new ways of connecting with your patrons.
It’s easy to get started. Just go to http://www.adaretoremember.com/ and click “Do a dare”. Sign yourself up or set up a team. Give your team’s URL to your friends, family, and your patrons. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and any help you need setting it up.
To see how last year’s event went, check out the Access article: http://www.accessola.com/accessonline/onlineonly/archives/summer2010/StreetReference.php. Street Reference was also covered in Feliciter, and the OLITA 2010 Digital Odyssey conference.
Thanks very much for reading. I hope you spread the word and give it a try. It’s a great cause, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to reach out to your community. See you on the street!