Tactical Urbanism for Librarians: Quick, Low-Cost Ways to Make Big Changes

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Tactical urbanism, a global grassroots movement to improve cities by and for the people who live in them, has applications that are tailor made for libraries. Tactics like "start small," "value intangibles," and "bundle pragmatics with delight" can help libraries engage with their users while also solving immediate problems. Best of all, these projects can be lightweight, inexpensive, and quick to realize. Here, Munro offers plentiful examples from cities and libraries that show where tactical urbanism is happening now and making a difference. A quick-start guide that inspires and empowers libraries to launch their own tactical library projects, this book addresses such topics as

  • useful urbanism concepts such as placemaking, pink zones, design thinking, and optical leverage;
  • 12 steps to becoming a tactical library interventionist;
  • 4 tactical urbanism case studies, such as the Astoria Scum River Bridge, Park(ing) Day, and Self-Gentrification, with discussion of why they matter to libraries;
  • 5 library case studies, including Library Box, Boston Street Labs Storefront Library, and a "Dewey-Less" Library System, that demonstrate how libraries can apply tactical urbanism concepts;
  • how cities and libraries can overlap initiatives, spotlighting real-world examples; and
  • ways that library leaders can cultivate a tactics-friendly organization.

This book illustrates how tactical urbanism offers librarians the tools to deliver fast, inexpensive, and innovative projects with big impact.


Chapter One    An Introduction to Tactical Urbanism

Chapter Two    Tactical Urbanism Case Studies


Sidebar: Some Useful Urbanism Concepts

Chapter Three    A Realistic Tactical Approach



Sidebar: How about Tactical Business Practices?

Chapter Four    Library Case Studies

Chapter Five    Library Meets City

Chapter Six    Coming Back to Earth

Chapter Seven    A Library Leader’s Guide to Building a Tactical Library

Chapter Eight    Twelve Steps to Becoming a Tactical Library Interventionist



Sidebar: Tactical Follow-Ups: Where to Find More

Chapter Nine    Summing Up



Karen Munro

Karen Munro is Head of the University of Oregon Portland Library and Learning Commons. Previously she was E-Learning Librarian at the University of California, Berkeley and Literature Librarian at the University of Oregon. She publishes and presents often on topics related to library design and outreach to users, particularly those in the fields of architecture and design.

"The case studies that Munro presents prove that this guerilla-style intervention in communities is achievable ... Munro's passion and excitement is palpable, immediately engaging readers who will want to explore tactical urbanism in their communities and libraries."

"This book is unique in its attention towards librarians' role in the movement ... Will inspire librarians and library staff to identify and solve problems."
— Library Journal

"Appealing and very workable for people who have a passion for promoting a healthy environment ... This work should be on the shelf of people all who want to improve their world because it gives great ways about how to do it."
— Journal of Hospital Librarianship

"Using the vocabulary of tactical urbanism and employing the experiences of city planners, librarians can easily appropriate these concepts in small scale revolutions to advance services to patrons and influence leadership in a community ... This is a practical manual filled with sensible ideas whether considering a new advocacy campaign or renovating an entire library space. The book is complete with a comprehensive list of references and helpful index."
— Catholic Library World