Back in April, I stumbled across an article about a library in Illinois that was trying to crowdfund enough money to purchase a 9 foot tall statue of The Incredible Hulk for their branch. Comic books and libraries, what’s not to love? Amazed and impressed, I went to their indiegogo page to discover not only were they in search of a statue but also a new iMac, a 3D printer, and other technology that would make it possible for patrons to create their own comics. Why a Hulk, you ask? The Hulk is all about transformation: mild-mannered scientist Bruce Banner becomes a superhuman, invulnerable giant called The Hulk. Just like Banner (The Hulk’s mild-mannered alter-ego), Northlake (Ill.) Public Library sought to transform their library into a hub of DIY projects, technology, and education. The idea for this campaign started as a joke that quickly snowballed into reality. Tom Mukite, creator of the campaign, was chatting with another librarian about expanding their graphic novel selection. That led to the creation of a Friends group via Kickstarter, a meeting with the heads of the library, and finally a solid plan to get their very own Hulk.
After the campaign went live it was broadcast by sources like Geekosystem and The Huffington Post. With a final goal of $30,000, the Northlake Public Library finally started on their chance to get a Hulk. Although they were only able to raise just over $4,000, Steve Williams of L.A. Boxing in Orange, California was kind enough to donate his old Hulk statue for a great cause. With that out of the way, the majority of their funding went to purchase a new iMac as well as Cintiq (the new frontier of digital comics creation). The remainder went to shipping prices, taxes, and a hefty load of new graphic novels
So what’s the importance in all of this? Websites like Kickstarter and indiegogo have enabled people to fund their projects for a few years now and this Hulk campaign is one of the first examples of what a public library can achieve. Patrons, librarians, and even complete strangers to Northlake donated from $1 to $100 in order to help achieve their goal. Tom Mukite was nice enough to answer an email with questions about the project in which he said, “I would absolutely recommend libraries using crowdfunding to get stuff that they want. I can imagine a trend where libraries using it becomes the norm and just becomes a normal tool for libraries next to book sales. When you think about it, libraries are already crowdfunded. This is just a way to spotlight certain projects and reach more people.” What is your library in need of? New chairs for the reading room? A better graphic novel collection? What’s stopping you? Get a group together, create goals, and start a campaign. The word will get out and you just might make your library’s dream a reality.