Camp Happiness: Taking an Anythink experience to PLA

Happiness is...Justina Wooten, Anythink Concierge!

How do you take a space and turn it into an experience?

In 2013, Anythink concierge Justina Wooten had an idea. After watching the documentary Happy, Justina wanted to implement what Anythinkers refer to as an “Experience Zone” – a space where customers can interact with information – by creating a fish bowl of prompts for people to choose good deeds to “pay forward.”

But then the idea spread. What would happen if we took an already participatory Experience Zone and turned it into an even larger project? Could we engage with customers in a new and comprehensive way?  

Inspired by the Idea Box at Oak Park Public Library outside of Chicago, Anythink staff took on the challenge and converted a plain conference room into a full participatory exploration of all things happiness – the science, the inspiration, the action. Information about chemical compounds and the science of happiness was displayed. Participants were met with a series of quotes to help jog their thoughts. Using aromatherapy, customers were able to awaken their senses with scents that inspire happiness like mint, lavender and coffee. A small fountain gave the room a calming sound and sense. And then there were the action elements: origami leaves with notes of personal happiness, postcards, a guest book and a fish bowl full of pay-it-forward prompts.

The result was a beautiful retreat where library customers learned, reflected and created. And they did just that. The Happiness Experience was an overwhelming success, and Anythink customers visited the space time and time again. One local family even made it their new destination, sharing this comment: “We don’t have to go out to a restaurant or to the mall. We can just come here and have this experience.”

In fact, the experience was so popular that Anythink was asked to take it to the road. At this year’s Public Library Association 2014 Conference in Indianapolis, Anythink will share Camp Happiness, a spirited recreation of the original Happiness concept created at Anythink Wright Farms. Anythink staff are taking a plain room in an exhibit hall at PLA and transforming it into a camp-themed interactive exhibit where attendees can learn, participate and, most importantly, have fun. 

The exhibit will also feature happiness-related books and materials donated by Better World Books, an organization dedicated to supporting libraries and literary causes around the globe.

Camp Happiness is an opportunity to share a piece of Anythink with the larger library community and talk with other library professionals about how they can turn their spaces into participatory experiences for their customers. Attendees can visit Camp Happiness at the PLA 2014 Conference Library Space Pavilion during normal exhibit hours from March 12-14. 

Be on the lookout for Camp Happiness updates by following the hashtag #CampHappiness.