Home Sponsored Library Takeover Returns: Submit Your Application!

Library Takeover Returns: Submit Your Application!

Learn to plan a community event through the Library Takeover Program at Madison Public Library. Funding, mentorship, and free library space help bring your ideas to life.


From now until January 31, 2024, Madison Public Library is accepting applications for the Library Takeover program.

Teams of three or four people can apply to participate in the program, which includes a multi-session course on event planning and culminates in a finished and fully-funded program at the library in 2024. The library will choose up to three teams to participate and will provide $2,000 for each team to use in planning their event. Each individual team member will also receive a $400 stipend and a certificate of completion from Madison Public Library.

“This year we are looking for more innovative, out-of-the-box ideas–submissions that will surprise us or challenge everyone’s expectations of what one might typically see in a public library,” said Community Engagement Librarian Sean Ottosen. “The Library Takeover program continues to be a way for people to express their creativity, as well as support, celebrate, and increase the visibility and brilliance of their own unique communities–all with the funding, training, and connections that might take years to develop on their own.”

One stipulation for teams applying is that they can’t already be part of an existing institution like a school, a government agency, a for-profit business, or a non-profit organization. Additionally, events should be intended primarily for adults and be free and open to the public. No previous event-planning experience is necessary, however – all that’s needed is a great idea for community engagement.

Each team that is selected to create a program will be paired with a mentor from the community. This year’s mentors are Sarah Akawa, Rob Dz, and Charles Payne (bios below). Mentors help guide their team through a crash course on event planning, share their local contacts and connections, and lend their expertise to the process. 

Library Takeover began in 2017 as a way to do community programming differently. Last year’s teams hosted events honoring the Kichwa community in Madison and highlighting Indigenous migration stories, as well as showcasing the importance of parents having spaces to meet and talk in bilingual settings. Over 250 people attended these events in Spring 2023. 

Library Takeover Timeline: 

  • Applications Open: December 1, 2023
  • Applications Close: January 31, 2024
  • Teams Notified of Status: February 26, 2024
  • Event Planning Bootcamps: The four-part series of workshops will be held at the Central Library (201 W Mifflin St) Tuesday nights March & April, 6-7:30pm Dates TBD.

All events must take place by fall 2024.

Library Takeover is funded in part by Madison Public Library Foundation. Visit madpl.org/librarytakeover to learn more or submit an application.

About the Mentors:

Sarah Akawa: Sarah Akawa is an advocate for queer nightlife and inclusive spaces. Akawa is a DJ and producer operating under the name Saint Saunter, and has put extensive effort into booking queer-focused dance parties, live music events, and art shows at venues around town. In 2019, Akawa runs the multi-genre summer festival series Hot Summer Gays and runs Queer IRL, a monthly queer dance party.

Rob Dz: Rob Dz is a Madison-based Hip Hop artist and activist. He currently works as the Media Projects Bubblerarian at the Madison Public Library. He is the creator of the Mad Lit event series on the 100 block of State Street that focuses on creating a more inclusive downtown by bringing in music, art and businesses of color throughout the summer.. One of his songs is the inspiration for the title of American Family Insurance’s book, Let’s Talk About It, which memorializes the mural art downtown following the civil unrest of 2020.

Charles Payne: Charles Payne is a local poet, playwright and artist who is currently serving as the Shop One Artist/Educator in Residence for the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. He is a passionate storyteller who has won the Moth Grand Slam and taken home the Arts + Literature Laboratory’s inaugural ALL Originals Prize for his poems “Dead End” and “Dinner with a Pig.” Charles’ essays have appeared in the Isthmus, Madison Magazine and ALL Review, and his play, “Da Classroom Ain’t Enuf,” will be performed at Broom Street Theater in April 2024.