This post originally appeared on the Library as Incubator Project in 2012.

The Library as Incubator Project is pleased to feature Tiny Library Concerts, submitted by Allen Chamberlain, librarian at the Reed-Gumenick Library at the Collegiate School, a private K-12 school in Richmond, Virginia.  Tiny Library Concerts seems to be a prime example of how students and school librarians can work together to create creative and popular arts programming in a school environment.   Allen describes the project:  

Tiny Library Concerts was inspired by Bob Boilen’s (the NPR music critic) Tiny Desk Concerts. As you know, he invites musicians to his desk to play a set, and then they’re streamed on the NPR website. This just seemed like a perfect fit for the library during lunch on Fridays. We book student musicians and publicize the concerts with the help of an Upper School student club, MACE (Musical Association for Collaborative Effort).

Tiny Library Concert poster, designed by student Annika Wooton

How did it start? Where/what was the need, and how did this fill it?

The Tiny Library Concerts started because we have a vibrant music program here at Collegiate and a library where students love to hang out. Although we have remarkable “formal” school concerts, we thought it would be fun to begin our weekend with something more informal. Plus, we have many students who are musicians but don’t play or sing in the orchestra, jazz band, strings ensemble, or camerata. The Tiny Concert is their venue.

How was the project developed? 

After we were inspired by Bob Boilen, we started talking to students, to find out how much interest there might be. From there, it’s taken off like a rocket. We work with students in MACE, led by Co-Presidents Anthony Vita and Ian Rowland, to book musicians and to publicize the concerts.  Students from MACE also setup the space and equipment (keyboards, mics, etc.). Mike Boyd, Director of Performing Arts at the school, has also been unfailingly supportive of the project. We now have more students who want to play than we do Fridays on the calendar.

How did/do you promote it?

We promote the concerts with posters, announcements at assemblies, word-of-mouth, and through email. Our poster was designed by a student, Annika Wooton, who is a gifted graphic designer.

Describe a typical Tiny Desk Concert. 

During our first lunch period (from 11:00 to 11:40) on Friday, we turn the library over to the concert. Students and teachers bring their lunch or just bring their good selves to listen. On the morning of the concert, students from MACE bring in all the equipment. Just before the concert begins, they set up, and when it’s over, they take everything back to the performing arts building.

What have been the results? 

The concerts have been wildly successful. Although we haven’t expanded the program, we see many possibilities for the library being a performance space. To give you a sense of the concerts, see two features from our school newspaper, here and here.

What has been the response from the community?

Crazy. Wonderful.

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