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The Northlake Public Library seeks to "smash" preconceptions with The Incredible Hulk

Elliott Serrano, for Redeye

May 22, 2013

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The Incredible Hulk has rampaged through comic books, television and the cinema, but if some folks have their way he will also be coming to…the library? That’s what the comic-book fans behind the “Bring the Hulk to the Northlake Public Library” fundraising campaign have in mind.

With the struggling economy putting the pinch on budgets, public institutions like the Northlake Public Library are turning to crowd sourced funding to try support projects they couldn’t normally afford.  The “Bring the Hulk to the Northlake Public Library” campaign launched on Indigogo, a crowdfunding site, a few weeks ago.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a 9 foot tall statue of the Green Goliath that would be placed adjacent to the Graphic Novels section in the library. In addition, funds would be used to create a “digital creative space” for patrons that would include an iMac with a drawing pad, editing software, Cintiq interactive pen display, Artograph Light Tracer Elite and a 3D printer.

But why all the geeky tech for a library? According to Northlake Adult/Teen Librarian Tyler Works, the ongoing trend is for libraries to give people access to creative digital technologies that they couldn’t afford on their own. And while there have been other libraries in the U.S. to hold crowd sourcing campaigns for similar purposes, Works believes that Northlake is the first library in Illinois to do so.

(I'm pretty sure they're the first to try and get a giant Hulk statue!)

When asked about public response to the campaign, Works says ”There’s been a bit of ‘what? Libraries don’t normally do that kind of thing! But it’s been positive.”

So, the obvious question is “Why the Hulk?” Why not Spider-Man or Iron Man?  Northlake resident Tom Mukite points to the Hulk’s duality, “Bruce Banner represents the nerds (science and knowledge) while the Hulk represents the creative process breaking out, something larger than life.”

The campaign has gained a lot of attention, getting coverage in The Onion’s AV Club, the UK Guardian, Tech Crunch and the Huffington Post.  Comments on the campaign’s Indiegogo page are supportive, with several librarians cheering them on.  But despite all that, the campaign has yet to reach it’s target goal of $30,000 with less than 18 days left.

And what if the campaign doesn’t reach it’s goal? Would it still be considered successful? Works says that it depends on how you measure success. “Any money we get is a success” he says.

At the very least, funds will be used to purchase new books for the library. Also, the campaign has helped change the way libraries are perceived.  No longer just stuffy buildings where you go to read musty old books and get shushed by the stoic, silver-haired librarian. Libraries are centers of creativity and community interaction.

“The press and attention has been a success," Works insists, "not just for us but libraries as a whole.” 

And with the Incredible Hulk looming over your shoulder while you read the latest issue of “Iron Man”, I don’t see how anyone could look at libraries the same again.

The Northlake Public Library serves the towns of Northlake, Stone Park and unincorporated Leyden Township.

For more info on the “Bring the Hulk to the Northlake Public Library” campaign check out their page on Indiegogo.

Elliott Serrano is a Redeye Special Contributor and Resident Geek.

Follow Elliott on Twitter! (And don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. )