September 15, 2008

The Back Nine Stacks

Filed under: Uncategorized — tsladmin @ 12:24 pm

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).


  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 […]

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  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

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  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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