Bronx Community College hosted a pop-up location for IDNYC from February 17th through March 9th 2016. Overall, it was a great success with over 560 IDNYC cards handed out. Here is a checklist of items to consider if you are thinking of hosting the program in your library.
Step One: Contacts at IDNYC
The main contact I worked with was Larry Siegel. He is the Pop-Up Coordinator. I found him to be very responsive and an excellent resource who is very invested in making sure everything came off without a hitch and was a tremendous support throughout the duration of the pop-up.
Step Two: Reach out to all of your internal stakeholders
Your internal stakeholders will vary but, at minimum, you will need full cooperation from:
CUNY Public Safety: Your Chief of Public Safety or equivalent Head of Security will need to be brought into the loop at the very beginning of the process in order to ensure viability of the pop-up. IDNYC has a policy of advertising all of its pop-ups on their website and they will want assurances that members of the NYC community beyond CUNY members will have access to the pop-up. In particular, the Human Resources Administration of the Mayor’s Office, under whose jurisdiction the IDNYC program falls for coordination and staffing, had a high sensitivity to members of the public being forced to show ID to CUNY Public Safety Peace Officers to gain campus access. The sensitivity being that some applicants would self-select out of going to the pop-up because of interactions with uniformed Peace Officers, fears regarding information sharing among CUNY Public Safety and various immigration agencies and also fear of tracking due to having a history of domestic violence and or stalking. These are all valid concerns that we should have sympathy towards while also balancing those concerns with that of CUNY Public Safety’s charge.
In my experience with the pop-up, this ultimately led to no problems at all, but was originally a “sore spot” that almost led to the pop-up not happening at all. The approach taken by Public Safety was one of monitoring the day-to-day entries on campus and reserving the right to shut down the pop-up should any security incidents arise related to unmonitored/unrecorded guests from the wider community. So while I do not want to magnify these concerns beyond what actually happened (which was no reported incidents), it is wise to keep this contingency on your radar as you put together your program.
Office of Communications and Marketing & Your Office of Strategic Initiatives: These Offices may not uniformly exist on your respective campuses, but the chances are high that you have equivalent personnel whose roles entail communications with outside stakeholders such as the Mayor’s Office, IDNYC, and the like. They may have policies that entail at minimum contacting them as a courtesy or may involve more coordinated efforts between the Library Department and those offices. Further, they will be able to provide increased exposure for advertising purposes that would be mutually beneficial for both a high number of enrollments and public relations opportunities for the school. Generally it is under this umbrella of offices is where you find the person in charge of Government Relations on your campus who can coordinate communication with your local Community Board, local elected officials and can coordinate a press release or press conference along with further press coverage of your pop-up. Admittedly, this was a missed opportunity on my part and I would advise those Libraries who plan to go ahead with a pop-up to push for news coverage, photo ops, and the like in order to help raise the profile of the school, your Library and to get as many people into your pop-up as possible.
Your Administration: Securing buy-in from your President or Provost is key to a successful program. At the risk of being trite, “all the doors open up” once you have buy-in from your college leadership.
Your Student Government Association: They are powerful advocates who can spread word of the program to the student body. Also, this is an excellent opportunity to fortify liaison relationships with your SGA. It is also a good time to go to an SGA meeting and promote the program to SGA directly. Also, if you plan on housing the program in the Library in one of the study rooms—such as what we did at Bronx CC—you will want to inform the SGA to preempt concerns about the loss of a study room during a peak season such as midterms or finals.
Your Office of Student Life: The mix of professional and student staff are also an excellent “ear to the ground” who will help you ensure a successful program.
Physical Plant: They can provide logistical support for whatever chairs, tables, storage and other unique concerns arise from the existence of the pop-up.
Office of Room Scheduling: This may be moot if you plan on housing the program in your Library, but it is always good to keep them on your radar.
Step Three: Consider Anticipated Physical Plant Needs
Room size: We were able to house the pop-up comfortably in a 16’ x 14’ room. You will need a study table with seating for 6 for the required workspace to accommodate their materials. They will also need some space to set up a makeshift picture booth, so make sure the lighting in the room is normal. Note that they will have their own secured hotspot so coordinating with your Information Technology Department should not be necessary unless they want wifi for their personal devices.
Staff Needs: In our experience, they supplied three full time employees from the Human Resources Administration who were excellent. The employees will need access either to food by way of a local café or vending area and, if possible, space in a staff refrigerator for food. Relatedly, try to be sure the staff has a lounge or place to eat during their breaks. This rest area can be the student café as long as it is a reasonable distance from their location.
Storage: Also, the room in which their materials are stored needs to be secured under a lock and key. When they set up their equipment on day 1, they have some storage boxes and the like that should optimally be stored in a location close to their pop-up for ease of breakdown on the last day.
Seating: Another point to keep in mind is the area right outside of the pop-up should have a small seating area for people to wait while applicants ahead of them are being processed.On day 1, it is helpful to coordinate with Public Safety to ensure that they can bring the moving van on site as close as possible to the Library to facilitate ease of shipping.
Parking: Also, if you have on-site parking, try to facilitate parking for their staff through the duration of pop-up. In our case, this involved getting a make, model, color and plate number to Public Safety. These are all little details that make the pop-up run smoothly. Finally, on closing day, be sure to coordinate with Public Safety to ensure the van can gain similar access to Day 1 for ease of transfer and that the saved storage containers are available for packing.
At bottom, while it looks like a great deal of coordination, almost all of the heavy lifting on the part of the Library is on the front end. It really involves staying on top of the external relationships and making sure everything is ready for Day 1. After Day 1, the program essentially runs itself until closing day. I made it a point to drop by twice a day to check up on the staff and I gave them my personal information in case they needed a contact on site. Ultimately, I wanted to make them feel at home. If you have any follow up questions, please feel free to contact me.