By Any Media Necessary: Mapping Youth and Participatory Politics

Guerilla Libraries: Creating Real World Community

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“We know it’s a jungle out there. So take a break and pick up a book.”

What are Guerilla Libraries? Guerilla Libraries are intruders. They invade public space for the sake of making a personal statement. They give curators the authority to define their own message, agenda or purpose. They foster a space where ideas can flow freely and openly.

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Workshop Objectives:

  Empower individuals and foster community around a specific interest, social issue, or topic.

  Revitalize the general public’s interest in books in our current digital age. Foster the unique experience of reading a book.

  The concern is that although college students are educated and literate, we aren’t reading But what are we reading? Why are we reading?

Workshop Materials:

     Supply of books

     Bookmarks (template provided at the bottom)

     Laptops (highly suggested that each participant brings one)



Workshop Timeline Overview:

     5 min ­ Film: Mixbit Actvity

     10 min ­ Discuss: What was the last book you read, when did you read it?

     10 min ­ Explain: Guerilla libraries

     15 min ­ Curate: Individual digital libraries

     10 min ­ Experience: Each other’s libraries

     10 min ­ Share: Your own library, discuss location

  5 min ­ Promise: Tell folks where the facilitator­made library is, have them promise to use their phones only as a camera

     30 min ­ Read: Read a single book

     5 min ­ Spread: Spread the word

     20 min ­ Reflect: Discussion

TOTAL: 2:00

Workshop Audience:

  This workshop can work with any group of people as long as there are books on hand and participants who know how to read them. However, we found that it is best suited when it takes place as an interruption to a daily routine. We suggest contacting high school or university classrooms, or even offices ­ invading these highly repetitive spaces opens participants’ minds to the merits of our workshop, which does not seek to impart direct skills but rather to encourage participants to more closely consider their general habits.


Please review the entire instructions to gain a better sense of guerilla libraries and how the activities are meant to meet the workshop objectives.

Before the workshop begins, workshop leaders must create a guerilla library! Each individual can create their own mini bookshelf tucked away on campus or group leader can build a larger and more invasive library. Participants will be experiencing the guerilla library during the workshop. This task is meant to familiarize workshop leaders with guerilla libraries and help them conduct Phase 2 (Installation) of the workshop. Please turn to Phase 2 for instructions on creating the Guerilla Library.

For IML 420 Workshop Leaders (only): We provided books for your Guerilla Library, but you will still need to follow the curation instructions for Phase 2. The books we have supplied are resources you can use for your libraries, but we encourage you to bring your own books as well. The guerrilla libraries is meant to be community based and to keep growing through participant contributions. Keep in mind, people are encouraged to write in the books and guerilla libraries are temporary so books will be returned.


Welcome and Group Introduction ­­ Do a simple welcome; introduce the title of the workshop and all group leaders. Also introduce theme of workshop. Above you can find our objectives and other readings and websites that talk more in depth about guerilla libraries.

5 min ­ Short Film: Mixbit Activity Link:


1. Download Mixbit application on a facilitator’s smartphone. We suggest you familiarize yourself with the application to avoid technical difficulties in the future.

a.     Alternatives: portable video camera or Instagram video.

b. Make sure the option you chose can be easily displayed at the end of the workshop.

2. Pose question: What is your favorite book and why? Let the participants think about this for a minute.

3.     Record participants responses individually.

4.     Let the participants know the video will be used at further into the workshop.

The goal of this exercise is to encourage participants to begin thinking about the power of reading in their life, and create a sense of nostalgia and motivation to read. Hopefully, participants will have some shared interests and also begin to connect with each other. It is also meant to bring the presentation full circle at the end.

Sidenote: Engage participants in almost casual conversation around the subject to create a safe space for discussion. If participants have shared interest try to foster those connections (if they do not come naturally) or make connections between them.

10 min ­ Discuss

Transition into the following questions: What is the last book you read (for fun), and when did you read it? Do you prefer reading books online, if so why or why not? How are digital books different than physical books?

These questions are meant to continue the conversation about the experience that tangible books provide to readers. Conversations can flow very differently with every group, but use the following as guidelines for the discussion:

  How are physical books different than digital books? How does the experience change?

     How have your reading habits changed over time? What factors play into this?

     Do you enjoy reading? Why?

10 min ­ Explain: Guerilla libraries

Use the following link to truly familiare yourself with Guerilla Libraries : . This portion of the workshop is meant to emphasize how guerilla libraries are tools to foster community. Essentially, the libraries are suppose to help promote a specific cause, issue, or topic.

Guerilla libraries are curated around a specific topic. They are meant to promote conversations around the topic or simply educate people. It is this environment that establishes a sense of solidarity. Things to discuss:

  What is something you’re into that is unique? How could curating a guerilla library foster community?

     What do books offer that social media doesn’t?

  Community building, sharing something unique to you, power to create your library

     Understanding how to balance between digital and non­digital.

PHASE 1: Preparing Your Curation

Your library can say anything you want! Maybe it’s a collection of children’s books. Be imaginative­­it can be anything from vegan cookbooks to classic literature. Always remember that this is your installation! Obviously the goal is to foster a community of readers and create interest and intrigue in the everyday passerby, but it’s important to give the library a bit of personality.

15 min ­ Curate: Individual digital libraries

There are many helpful resources to create virtual libraries. For example, on Goodreads, not only can you read excerpts, popular quotes, and reviews, but you can peruse other users’ virtual libraries. We use this part of the workshop to get the participants excited about creating their own library. It is important to encourage the participants to put thought in and take pride in their decisions.

Here are a couple ways participants can create their virtual libraries:

1. Amazon Shelfari

2. Goodreads Virtual Library

3.  Screenshots or hand­drawn images of book covers

1)    Amazon (Shopping Cart)

2)    Prezi/Online Slideshows

3)    Powerpoint/Office Suite

The point of this exercise is not only to get the participant thinking about their individual creations, but also to then share their ideas and visit each others virtual libraries.

10 min ­ Experience: Each other’s libraries

The participants will now share each other’s libraries by walking to each other’s computers/iphones/ipads. During this time, hopefully the ice will continue to break and visiting each other’s virtual libraries will encourage more dialogue about reading and increase morale! After the participants have experienced one another’s libraries, they can now return to their seat so workshop leaders can discuss more aspects of phase one and the preparation period.

10 min ­ Share: Your own library, discuss location

After browsing each other’s libraries, have everyone return to their seats. Then have everyone briefly present where they would place their guerrilla library and why. Below are some ideas for inspiration.

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION ­ Choosing the right spot for your library!

Campus Hotspots

Coffee Shop

Dining Halls

Actual Libraries!

Pit Stops / Random Places Along the Way

Clever Hideaways

PHASE 2: Installation

Participants will now get to experience your library! Send individuals out on campus, but BEFORE they leave, tell them to put their phones on airplane mode and also to take the oath below. This is an exercise that allows the participants to be fully immersed, and given the proper experience of being forced to take some time and read.

5 min ­ Promise: Tell folks where the facilitator­-made library is, have them promise to use their phones only as a camera

Each individual takes a verbal oath as they depart for the installation: “This is not a phone. It’s just a technological device that I will use to share and spread the word about guerrilla libraries.”

30 min ­ Read: Read a single book

Participants locate the libraries, spend time there perusing and enjoying the simple act of reading a good book. They can use their phones (or something else) to document the experience in some small way. Facilitators, you can use this as a time to photograph your participants as well. Enjoy your time reading!

PHASE 3: Carrying on the Legacy

5 min ­ Spread: Spread the word

Running a guerrilla library doesn’t stop at setting up the library and garnering participants. A great opportunity you have as facilitators is to enable your library to be sustainable and live on forever. One of the best ways to do this is to use social media to create awareness and allow participants to continue their experience even after the workshop is over.

After the reading session, take some time for both you and the participants to post photos to the Facebook page. Have your participants like the Facebook page and encourage them to invite their friends to like the page as well.

In addition to liking the Guerrilla Libraries page, encourage participants to post to their individual social media accounts as well (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

20 min ­ Reflect: Discussion questions

Discussion. Sample questions:

1)    Tell us about your personal experience when you went to visit the facilitator’s library.

2) So obviously, reading is not going away ­ however, most of the reading we do today happens online, which is very different from reading books. What do think these differences are?

3) Are there ways to carry over the good bits of reading books over to a more technological setting? How do we improve the ways we currently consume text/information digitally?

4)    How do guerrilla libraries foster community?

After the discussion, conclude the workshop by handing out the bookmarks! Bye y’all.

Bookmark template:

Other graphics:

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