SEPTA and Philly library enrich rides with reading

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Heather Redfern - Also by this author

Free Library of Philadelphia Digital Resource Specialist Loren Groenendaal demonstrates how the virtual library works. Photo courtesy SEPTA.
Free Library of Philadelphia Digital Resource Specialist Loren Groenendaal demonstrates how the virtual library works. Photo courtesy SEPTA.

The daily commute can be monotonous — take the bus or train to work, to school, to town and hop back on a few hours later to get home. For many public transit patrons, reading is a necessary component of their ride; it can make the morning trip more bearable, the journey home faster.  

As part of its ongoing efforts to bring variety and interactivity to its passengers’ commutes and recognize the role reading plays in the rides of its customers, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) partnered with the Free Library of Philadelphia for a National Library Week (April 14-20) celebration.

The goal was to demonstrate how accessible the library can be — how the public can “visit” the library by checking out its digital collection even while riding the bus or train.

Initial planning focused on outreach opportunities at SEPTA locations where library staff might explain how to register for a Philadelphia library card or log onto the Free Library’s website to access the organization’s vast digital collection of more than 80,000 ebooks, 8,000 audiobooks and 1,000 author podcasts. But what would be the best way to demonstrate how to use the electronic library? Bring the books to commuters by creating a virtual “branch” at one of SEPTA’s busiest stations.

Making the virtual library a reality was a lofty goal that would require quick action and the financial support of an outside firm. Titan, the advertising agency for SEPTA, pitched the idea to Dunkin’ Donuts — reading and enjoying a great cup of coffee (with a spill-proof lid) are the perfect combination for an enjoyable commute. (Titan also had worked with Pea Pod to create virtual grocery stores advertisements at train stations.) The result? For the month of April, SEPTA, the Free Library of Philadelphia and Dunkin’ Donuts have “opened” at SEPTA’s Suburban Station what is believed to be the first virtual library at a U.S. train station.  

Located on Suburban Station’s platforms, the campaign’s 76 brightly colored displays — filled with selections from the Free Library’s extensive digital collection — put a new spin on the typical “to go” menu. Riders step up to the boards, scan QR codes with their smart phones or camera-containing tablet and download the Free Library’s ebooks and author podcasts to their devices. Almost instantaneously, passengers have new reading or listening materials on phones and tablets. Add a drink from one of Suburban Station’s Dunkin’ Donuts locations and customers are set for their SEPTA journeys.

The Suburban Station platform displays include QR codes to download podcast conversations with authors and public figures like Colin Powell, Madeline Albright and Dave Barry and classics such as Les Miserables and Frankenstein — all of which do not require a Free Library of Philadelphia card. To access bestsellers like Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and Lee Childs’ A Wanted Man, a library card is needed, but the directions for registering for a card are also available via QR code.

In addition to the displays at Suburban Station, SEPTA and the Free Library are recognizing National Library Week with a special contest. “We wanted to start a social media conversation of what our customers are reading,” said Kim Scott Heinle, SEPTA’s assistant GM, customer service.  

Through April 16, SEPTA riders were able to submit titles of books they have read or are currently reading to the SEPTA Philly Facebook page or @SEPTA_Social Twitter feed, with #enrich your ride, to win prizes including passes to some of the Free Library’s conversations with noted authors, a Dunkin’ Donuts prize pack and a SEPTA monthly pass.

“We’ve received many great responses from our customers. Hopefully we can keep this ‘virtual book club’ going after the contest ends,” added Heinle.

The virtual library at Suburban Station and “What Are You Reading?” contest  are great examples of how the corporate world, public sector and transportation companies can work together to develop marketing programs that are educational and enhance the public transit experience. The overwhelmingly positive response from riders to the virtual library is proof that more partnerships like this would be welcome in the future.

Hopefully with continued sponsorship, SEPTA, the Free Library of Philadelphia and other organizations can further this concept.    
 

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More Transit Dispatches Blog Posts

August 17, 2016

SEPTA Pulls Out All the Stops to Transport DNC Attendees

The recently adjourned 2016 Democratic National Convention put Philadelphia in the national — and international — spotlight once again. For the third time in four years, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority transported thousands of visitors to the City of Brotherly Love and its surrounding counties. As with the U.S. Open in 2013 and the World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit in 2015, public transit was a key component for all event activities.

August 2, 2016

How Will the Sharing Economy Affect Public Transit?

Everywhere, evidence reveals how we’re moving into a less-consumptive, sharing-based society. Whether it’s people’s homes, torrent files or a car ride downtown, sharing is in. As environmentally conscious and economically prudent reducers and re-users, millennials are choosing non-traditional forms of transportation. This behavior has already had a huge impact on the way the transit industry is planning for its future.

June 15, 2016

'AIM-ing' High for Succession Planning in the Transportation Industry

How do you replace the institutional knowledge and subject expertise of a 40-year employee? You do it through succession planning, which is especially necessary in the transportation industry where senior level managers often have well over 25 years’ experience.

June 8, 2016

4 Things Every Transit Leader Should Know About Their Front Line

Lao Tzu, the famous tactician and the author of "The Art of War," wrote “To lead people, walk beside them.” As leaders, we sometimes forget to step outside of our own job duties to understand the unique needs and perspective of our workforce. With the many vital roles we play each day to keep our companies running, we may think our time is too scarce to walk beside our most entry level workers. It's a belief that has resulted in many organizations’ lowered morale and catastrophic financial losses.

May 25, 2016

Changes to rolling stock rules threaten industry supply chain

In February, the FTA finalized its grant management requirements circular governing the administration and management of all FTA grant programs. This revision incorporates changes to these programs contained in both authorizations that have been enacted in recent years, the FAST Act and MAP-21. While some provisions the revised circular are welcome and needed because of enactment of these new laws, it also contains changes that are not only unnecessary but could threaten the industry’s health.

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close