September 15, 2008

The Back Nine Stacks

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©(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).

Be Socia­ble, Share!

12:24 pm Comments (15)


  1. I can just see the golf balls going out into over the rail­ing into the area fifty feet below. We all know col­lege students!!

    Comment by Bill Drew — September 15, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

  2. Fan­tas­tic idea. We did this as a char­ity fundraiser at the law firm where I worked years ago. Oodles of fun, even with­out any real design work. It’s just a hoot to “use” a space so differently.

    I’ve also heard of orga­ni­za­tions doing 2 addi­tional things related to these events. 1) Work­ing with local golf courses/clubs ahead of time to pro­mote the event and spon­sor­ships (since, go fig­ure, golf courses often attract peo­ple who like golf), and; 2) Hav­ing both an “open” time for any­one to play, and then an addi­tional spon­sor­ship activ­ity for peo­ple to pay for the “pro cir­cuit,” which is video taped, announced, etc.

    Comment by Andy Havens — September 15, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

  3. […] Stuff, Library Stuff. track­back So I don’t know how many of our read­ers also read the blog The Shifted Librar­ian (if you don’t you should def­i­nitely check it out), but Jenny has an inter­est­ing post about […]

    Pingback by Mini Golf in the Library? « lisstlouis — September 15, 2008 @ 3:49 pm

  4. I just love this idea! I would love to do it at my library in Australia.

    Comment by Cathy Kelso — September 15, 2008 @ 10:16 pm

  5. Sounds cool. A friend at a small library in Ohio did some­thing like this on a shoe­string bud­get for her teen sum­mer vol­un­teers to reward them:

    Comment by Scott Clark — September 15, 2008 @ 11:22 pm

  6. I’m the lunatic try­ing to pro­mote this idea to help libraries raie funds and would like to respond to some of the comments.

    The first library design I did included a hole that went up a hand­i­cap ramp and ended at the edge of a bal­cony. Bad idea. Only a few balls rained down on the patrons and there were no injuries. The holes I now design that start on one floor and end on another only go down­hill and the ball is inside tub­ing for the jour­ney. They are incred­i­bly pop­u­lar with all of the kids under age 93.

    Most of the tour­na­ments I have hosted have, in fact, had two lev­els of play. Most of the day is open to all play­ers. But as peo­ple reg­is­ter, we ask them if they want to play for the cham­pi­onship. If yes, we ask them to keep their scores accu­rately and turn in their card at the end of the round and we get a cell phone num­ber. We set up a white­board with a run­ning tally of the best scores. When the open play time is done, we call the top 16 qual­i­fiers and let them know the cham­pi­onship round will begin shortly. Then it works like the NCAA bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment. The per­son with the best score plays the per­son with the 16th best score and so on. It takes four rounds to deter­mine a win­ner. At the South­worth Library in Dart­mouth, MA event this past Jan­u­ary, the ABC affil­i­ate out of Prov­i­dence sent a crew to film the finals and we made it onto the 11 PM news that evening. I’ll get the video clip on web­site soon so every­one can see it. We are con­sid­er­ing hav­ing a junior divi­sion in future events where the win­ner will receive a sub­stan­tial scholarship.

    I would love to help with an event in Aus­tralia. Per­sonal inspec­tion of the facil­ity may be warranted.

    Comment by Rick Bolton — September 16, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

  7. I think the cus­tom haz­ards could be really fun to imag­ine and make. Putting through the Prince­ton files or around the paper­back carousel would be easy to set up. Sounds like fun.

    Comment by rick roche — September 17, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

  8. What a great idea! Turn the library into a local­ized adven­ture! Browsers not par­tic­i­pat­ing will have to avoid trip­ping on rolling balls though!

    Comment by Dianna Wiggins — September 18, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

  9. I hosted a cro­quet tour­na­ment at my library for a team devel­op­ment day. Who knew that the type of wire book­ends when turned upside down made per­fect wick­ets? The course I set up, did go down to the bot­tom floor and up through the ele­va­tor! We had a blast!

    Comment by Diane Gaylor — September 18, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

  10. How about an answer on the safety issues I raised? Sounds like it would be fun though.

    Comment by Bill Drew — September 18, 2008 @ 2:35 pm

  11. What an awe­some idea! The fact that it can raise so much money in a sin­gle day is truly incredible.

    Comment by Noel C — September 19, 2008 @ 2:27 am

  12. […] Read the full arti­cle here […]

    Pingback by Puttering Around in the Stacks at Information Innovation Exchange — September 21, 2008 @ 1:05 pm

  13. We too have hosted “Putt Putt in the Library” at our school library. The first time was Fall of ’07, we use it as a “Just for Fun” activ­ity, some­thing we do in our school one Fri­day a month to reward kids for work­ing hard and stay­ing out of trou­ble. Stu­dents are always very appre­cia­tive and love it.

    Comment by Kendall Heide — September 23, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  14. […] The Back Nine Stack­sEver thought of con­vert­ing part of your stack into a mini golf course! Well, there’s now a […]

    Pingback by Quick Links - Reference Books and Other Stories - 25 September 2008 | Blogging Librarian — September 24, 2008 @ 11:02 pm

  15. […] I’ve writ­ten before about Rick Bolton and his Library Mini Golf non­profit that cre­ates 18-hole mini golf courses for libraries to use as fundrais­ers. This time I’m par­tic­u­larly excited to note that Rick has part­nered with the Down­ers Grove Pub­lic Library Foun­da­tion in Chicago’s west­ern sub­urbs to hold the first such event in this area, because DGPL is my home library. […]

    Pingback by The Shifted Librarian » Meet Me for Tee at DGPL on March 8 — March 3, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

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