At the beginning of the year, I highlighted a library fundraiser that raised $10,000 by putting a mini golf course in the stacks. Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with Rick Bolton, the guy behind the fundraiser, which is when I learned that he’s taken his original idea and expanded on it to create a 501(c)(3) organization that can work with libraries across the country.
“Yes, we really will turn your library into an amazing miniature golf course for a day. We work with public, school, and academic libraries seeking a fundraising event that will also draw new patrons to the library and provide for a fun community event. We have hosted several events in Connecticut and Massachusetts over the last few years and have inspired and coached other events across the country.”
I think it’s a fascinating idea, especially when you hear Rick talk about it. In fact, the one thing that’s missing from the website is Rick’s passion and enthusiasm for this project, which is really just a labor of love for him (it’s not his primary business).
The basic idea is that the Library Mini Golf nonprofit group will create a miniature golf course for a library, 80% of which is a standard course. The individual holes are created in such a way that they can be set up and taken down quickly, and they can be folded down for easy storage. LMG plans to work with college design school students to create the other, unique 20% of the course, which might include replicas of local buildings or other items of interest to the community. For example, t’s easy to imagine a Chicago version with a mini Sears Tower and Hancock Building. (Myself, I’d love to see a hole with kitchen utensils as obstacles in the 641.5 stacks.)
The library can then schedule an event and solicit local sponsors for each hole. On the big day, LMG will help the library set up the course around the stacks or wherever else you want it, and then people come in and play. Ultimately, Rick would like to see additional sponsors put money towards a college scholarship for the kid that wins a high school tournament held in the library. He estimates a library can raise a minimum of $10,000 in just one day for this type of event.
I can see towns competing against each other for best golf score, and maybe we could even have a national tournament the way we’re doing a videogame one for National Gaming Day on November 15. Rick told me he can make some specialty course holes, too. For example, he can have the hole start on one level and finish on another or start in one row of stacks and finish in another. I can’t wait to see one of these setups for myself, but the possibilities are intriguing, and I’m sure librarians will come up with other great ideas.
The LMG is currently working with other libraries on the east coast, but they’ve already done this with midwestern libraries and even an academic one. I think we’ll start seeing some testimonials appear on the LMG site as it evolves (it just launched and they’re still adding content), but there are also several articles about the fundraisers, such as this one that took place at Washburn University in Kansas and the positive response from the community.
My hope is to arrange for one of Rick’s courses to be set up at the Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium in November so that attendees can play for themselves and learn more about the service. In the meantime, interested libraries can contact Rick to learn more or discuss holding an event. Personally, I’d love to see my home library do one of these (hint, hint).