Profile: 5 Branch Libraries in Philadelphia

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For several months, participants were invited to explore the communities around neighborhood libraries via PokéStops and PokéCrawls. Five branch libraries in the Free Library of Philadelphia system each created a print map of neighborhood treasures, from murals to historic sites.

The hybrid approach with paper maps was often coupled with the game, but could also be used independently for anyone to try. The game was embedded within an existing library campaign for students on summer break to promote reading and exploration, known as the Summer of Wonder.

This was the longest-running experiment with Pokémon GO of the Knight-Niantic series, running from July through August, 2017.  The experiment was also the only one anchored in physical buildings, specifically:

  • Queen Memorial Library in Point Breeze
  • Fumo Family Library in South Philadelphia
  • Tacony LAB in the Northeast
  • Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library
  • Parkway Central Library in Logan Square

Detailed Report

>> These libraries are featured in our full report. Read the PDF version for the most complete description, based on our team’s interviews in Philadelphia.

Exclusive analysis in the report:

  • Ongoing activity (versus the more episodic approach in many cities, including with open streets)
  • Using libraries as neighborhood anchors to connect play with local history and resources

Key images

Sightseeing map for library PokéCrawl in Point Breeze (at left). At right, the layers overlap, from the paint on the building, to the activity guide that moves people through physical space. A mural by prominent artist Keith Haring is shown in both.
One library can have many hooks into the game, including a poster (top left), the custom neighborhood map for the game (at bottom with other summer materials), and most importantly with library staff who bring their own creative tactics for adapting the experience including with stuffed creatures and activities. Pictured is Liz Gardiner of the Queen Memorial Library.

Recruiting also happened through social media and email lists of local libraries, for example:


More on the Library remix

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