MICHELLE CORBET | MEMPHIS BUSINESS JOURNAL
Next time you visit a Redbox rental kiosk, you might find a surprising alternative nearby.
In its rebranding of Memphis' public libraries, Memphis-based marketing firm DCA wanted a way to grab people's attention.
During the research process, DCA found that libraries are generally viewed as staid institutions and repositories of the past, said Doug Carpenter, principal of DCA
So, the agency set out to shift that thinking and help local libraries be seen as engaging, relevant and a source of continually evolving information — kind of like the selection of movies in a Redbox.
"To get people’s attention, we wanted to find ways to do things that were unexpected, memorable and engaging," Carpenter said. "The Readbox, to us, was a creative solution to gain attention."
Once DCA designed the concept, Carpenter reached out to local furniture maker and craftsman Caleb Sweazy.
"I showed him an image we created and asked, 'Can you build it?' and he said, 'Absolutely,'" Carpenter said.
The handcrafted box was painted red to resemble the original and has DCA-designed logos and graphics redirecting people to MemphisLibrary.org where "1,000s more" are available.
The Memphis Public Libraries' version of Readbox features a selection of books instead of movies and video games, and the box was used in a pop-up guerrilla marketing campaign in which Memphis-based Via Productions captured the public's reaction.
"It’s been fun to watch people and hear their reactions," Carpenter said.
The most-asked question DCA received was whether the books had to be returned to the same Readbox.
DCA turned those inquiries into a teaching moment that the books can be returned to one of Memphis' 18 public library locations which also include movies, librarians, job fairs, music series, education programs and free WiFi.
"Honestly, it’s not anything we’ve seen done elsewhere," Carpenter said. "We've received inquiries from other markets about how they can do it too."
So far, the Readbox has been placed at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, Crosstown Concourse, the Walgreens on Getwell and Quince, and the Highland Strip.
Several organizations have also expressed interest in curating the book selection for community events. Interested entities can contact Memphis Public Libraries.
"It has somewhat of a personality of its own," Carpenter said. "It's a fun project, and libraries are a great resource for our city. I don’t want them to fall into the category of best-kept secret."
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