Hi! We're team Bookmark from San Francisco's Market Street Prototyping Festival (2015). As part of the festival, we were asked to make an instructable for our installation. Here, we give an overview of the process we went through. Hopefully this will help you create your own unique version of Bookmark.
Bookmark was designed to make Market Street pedestrians more aware of the broad and deep resources at the San Francisco Public Library, and to foster the community’s engagement with the library and with each other.
The portal, built out of books donated by SF residents, oriented passersby toward the library. As people walked through the portal, an audiobook from the library's collection was playing, and a sign explained how to borrow or download an audiobook. “Did you know?”-style information about the library was displayed, along with a selection of books for all ages that were free for the taking.
Step 1: Materials
We used the following materials and tools to construct Bookmark, with a focus on finding as many reclaimed materials as possible. Depending on the size of your version of the installation, you may need more or less than what we used.
- Reclaimed wood (cladding)
- 2x4s (framing)
- Plywood (shelving)
- Plexiglass (facade)
- Donated books
- Nail gun and nails
- Circular saw
- Drill and drill bits
- Wood screws
- Wood glue
- Extension cord
- MP3 player
Step 2: Design
Consider where your version of Bookmark will be located. Who will be using it? What weather conditions will it have to endure? How long will it be up? Is it for all ages? Answering these questions will help you figure out if you need alternate materials or waterproofing; if it will be taller or shorter (perhaps child-sized); and any other design tweaks.
For our Bookmark, we solicited the participation and input of our local library and library support non-profit, both of which contributed resources for free. Contact the public relations team at your local library and ask about the library's lesser-known resources and events — anything that you and the library staff think would be of interest to passersby when they interact with your Bookmark. If your library has a Friends of the Library organization, see if they can provide you with free books to use in the installation.
Our initial proposal was initially for a bookshelf "portal" with smaller bookshelf pillars leading up to it (see images). Knowing that we wanted to design something library-related, we came up with the idea after visiting the site checking out sightlines from Market Street. We worked through our ideas by sketching with pen and paper, then used AutoCAD for dimensioned elevations and plan. Rhinoceros enabled us to model it easily in 3D, and Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop helped us create the concept rendering and diagram.
After a guided tour of Civic Center and the Tenderloin, the neighborhoods around the installation site, we revised the scope to just the main bookshelf. Our tour guide, an ex-resident of the Tenderloin, had advised against including nighttime lights or seating in this neighborhood. For safety reasons, he told us that we shouldn't encourage nighttime activity or loitering.
From two engagement days that were open to public feedback, we heard from neighborhood residents and workers that they liked the idea of a library extension on Market Street. In talking with our design captain, the Exploratorium, we worked through construction ideas; they suggested stabilizing the bookshelves by adding a platform at the base and rigging guy-wires in case of attempts to push it over or high winds.
Step 3: Fabrication
1. MATERIALS SOURCING (1-2 weeks)
Sourcing materials will take a couple weeks if you're gathering reclaimed wood from a number of sources. Look for sheets of plywood and strips of wood between 1/2" and 2" thick. If you purchase wood for the cladding, sourcing materials can take just a day.
2. FRAMING (1 day)
Construct the frame in three sections. Two are the columns that will be the right and left sides of the portal. The third is the lintel, which rests atop the other two. Each section consists of a rectangular frame of 2x4s, and measures 2' by 2' by 8'.
In the columns, decide where your bookshelves will be placed. Where each shelf will go, notch grooves in the vertical 2x4s of the frame. The shelves will slide into these grooves.
3. CLADDING (1 day)
Cut the reclaimed wood strips into 2' lengths. Using the nail gun, nail the strips horizontally across the outside of the two columns and onto one side of the lintel, and the middle 4' of the other side of the lintel.
4. ELECTRONICS (2 hours)
The speakers and MP3 player will be set on one shelf, approximately at ear height. Where the speakers will be, drill enough holes in the cladding so the sound will be heard on the interior of the portal. Set up the speakers and MP3 player, then plug them in to the extension cord. Drill a large hole through the cladding at the base of the column and pull the extension cord plug through the hole.
5. FINAL PREPARATORY WORK (1 hour)
Due to its fragility in transportation, the plexiglass will be attached onsite. However, you should pre-drill holes around the edges of the plexiglass where it will be attached to the front and back of the columns and lintel.
Step 4: Installation
The pre-constructed columns and lintel will fit inside a standard pickup truck along with the plexiglass. You'll also need the books, speaker and MP3 player, a ladder, drill, screws, and washers onsite.
- If you'll be attaching your Bookmark to the ground or to a plywood base, screw the two columns in place.
- Then place the lintel on top of the columns and screw the lintel to the columns.
- Set up the speakers and MP3 player and plug them in to the extension cord. Start playing the audiobooks and adjust the volume on the speakers, taking into account what the neighborhood background noise will be at different times of the day. Because the electronics get locked inside, you will not easily be able to adjust them later.
- Fill the shelves with books.
- Finally, using washers and screws, attach the plexiglass to the front and back of the columns and lintel.
Step 5: Interaction
Once your Bookmark is installed, people can start to use it as a resource and point of interest immediately. Passersby can stop to hear a section of an audiobook, take a book from the open shelves, and check out any flyers or pamphlets you've included in the installation. Maps on your installation will direct people to the closest library branch, where they can find out more about the lesser-known resources the library has to offer.
In our case, Bookmark was a focal point of the plaza where it was located, and people were able to learn about classes, events, library-related organizations, and other resources. Our audiobooks had QR codes for checking out the full-length books online, and in addition to the maps that were a part of our installation, posters with interesting facts about the local library system gave people a few extra reasons to visit the library.
Now that you've built your version of Bookmark, celebrate! You've created something that people can use to learn about the library and foster community in their neighborhood.