Popup Library, Media Center Visits Detroit for December

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A portable media center and digital classroom that has laptops, e-books, and tablets, called the Ideas Box, will be offered to students in and around Detroit through the month of December. Detroit, which unveiled the program this morning at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, is the first city in the country to develop an Ideas Box program.

"Libraries Without Borders advances an incredibly important agenda: increasing Detroit schoolchildren's access to, and awareness of, educational materials,” says Rich Tao, senior adviser to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “That the organization does so in a creative, innovative manner only underscores the value of bringing the Ideas Box to our neighborhoods and schools.”

Tao says the portable media center, created by the nonprofit Libraries Without Borders in partnership with French designer Philippe Starck, can be set up in under 20 minutes. The Ideas Box contains 15 tablets, four laptops, 50 e-readers and e-books, 250 hard copy books, a cinema screen and projector with 100 films, and board and video games.

“We designed the Ideas Box as a tool that could expand access to information in a variety of contexts,” says Allister Chang, executive director of Libraries Without Borders U.S. “Our specific aims for this project are to increase literacy, numeracy, and digital fluency, and to create new spaces in Detroit for information exchange and multi-media collaboration for all members of the community.”

Chang says Ideas Box programs have been developed in Burundi, Jordan, Australia, and France. The modular device consists of six pieces and weighs about 1,800 pounds. The four main boxes include a component for laptops, a library, a cinema screen, and a multimedia toolkit. The other two boxes unfold to become tables and chairs. 

Chang says the Ideas Box contains its own power system, including a generator and battery system. The cost of producing the Ideas Box is about $60,000. It will travel to different locations until the end of the month.

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