Steal this Program Idea

Because…

We don’t NAP - We Program

The following document contains handouts that were submitted as part of the first ever Northeast Adult Programmers (NAP) Meetup that was held on February 25, 2016 at the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey

This was an informal day of sharing ideas, lightning talks and a chance for those in libraryland who spend their days planning and delivering programs for adults to exchange ideas for programs and discuss ways to improve the planning process -- and much more.

For more information on how you can organize your own meetup of adult programmers, please contact Janie Hermann at Princeton Public Library:

jhermann@princetonlibrary.org 


Martinis* and Money

 

Cherry Hill Public Library, Cherry Hill, NJ

CHPL is among the largest municipal libraries in New Jersey, serving 70,000 residents of this vibrant and diverse suburb eight miles east of Philadelphia. Staffed by 15 full-time librarians, CHPL hosts more than 600 events and classes per year. In addition to providing access to premium print and digital information, CHPL prides itself on providing innovative programming and non-traditional collections.

 

Summary:  A three week series of hour long programs aimed at emerging adults covering various financial literacy topics.

 

Goals: We wanted to create programming aimed at an audience in their 20s and 30s that was both entertaining and educational. We thought creating a series of various topics combined with a “cocktail party” style was a fun way to address serious topics.

 

Events:

  • “Where Is All My Money Going? Budgeting 101” with guest speaker Matthew S. Montenero, Vice President, Investment Officer of Wells Fargo Advisors
  •  “Too Broke to Invest? Think Again!” with guest speaker Derek Dobin of Prudential South Jersey Financial Group
  •  “How to Buy a House: A Beginner’s Guide” with guest speaker Sandi Lichtman of Lichtman Associates Real Estate, LLC

 

Speakers: As we receive frequent inquiries from speakers that would like to use our meeting space, we had several contacts from local banks and real estate firms that we could approach to be part of the series. Each speaker generously donated their time and expertise.

 

Supplies: Speakers brought their own handouts for distribution. For our “martinis,” we bought sparkling ciders and Italian sodas, served in plastic cups with lime garnishes and drink umbrellas. We also served cheese and crackers.

 

Budget: Total budget was around $75 for refreshment supplies.

 

Promotion: Event was posted on our online and print event calendars and full page flyers were posted throughout the library and in the Cherry Hill community. We created postcard-sized flyers for each individual event and used those images for online promotion through Instagram and Facebook.

 

Execution:  Programs were held in one of our conference rooms and set theater-style. We had a table set in the back of the room to display upcoming events and to set up refreshments. A staff member was present during the program to assist the speaker, prep the “bar”, and serve drinks.

 

Attendance: Program attendance ranged from 10 – 15 participants at each program.

Download & Dine

Louisa Bann

Head of Adult Services

Elizabeth Public Library

2/18/2016

I got this idea for our Makers Day last year. Elizabeth PL has a very limited budget

and since a makerspace is not in our sights any time soon, we were all tasked with

coming up with volunteers who can “make” things—or think of something you

personally can demonstrate.

Side note: we had so many amazing home-grown programs that our Makers Day was the most successful day of our year, and included everything from a writers café, a jazz pianist, deconstructed computers, robotics, a raspberry pie code that tweeted on our Twitter from a stuffed animal, arm-knitting, film-making, and on and on, all demonstrated by staff and volunteers.

Since I’m not at all crafty, I focused on our under-utilized downloadable collections

and started to think about what I could make.  Since I’m also obsessed with food, I

immediately went to OverDrive and started with cookbooks.  And there it was…a

recipe that I could make and serve- and at the same time show patrons how to

download recipes—and that became Download & Dine.  I had recipe cards made on

hard stock paper that patrons could take, and served up a simple pizza sauce recipe

in a crockpot, which wafted through the building, yum!  

The recipe I chose was a deconstructed pizza of sorts. I served sample tastings in a Dixie cup, with a hit of mozzarella cheese, toppe with a cube of great bread on a toothpick.  Teen volunteers helped me serve and illustrate OverDrive.  The library supplied 2 iPads

for demonstrations.  I also created takeaway instructions for downloading onto various devices, which also went on our website.  We got around any health codes by placing a sign on the serving table that this recipe was not prepared in a commercial kitchen, and if you have allergies, beware!  

On the table I also displayed color prints of various cookbook covers and many more recipes. Since the program was so successful, I was asked to do it again this year which I will do using Zinio magazines and instructions.  It’s fun, try it!

Princeton Public Library - Hannah Schmidl

Recent Successful Event                                                 

Program

“Lead Parenting: A Conversation About Families, Fathers, and Caregiving in America”

Presenters: Anne-Marie Slaughter and Andrew Moravcsik

Part of the Spotlight on the Humanities Series on Public Policy in America

Description

Anne-Marie Slaughter (New America Foundation CEO and Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University) and her husband Andrew Moravcsik (Professor of Politics and Public Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School) spoke on the choices they made about caring for their children and building their careers. Both of them call for employers to place a greater value on caregiving, whether of children, elders, or other family members, and for greater flexibility for both men and women to achieve a work/care balance.

Audience

75  (all ages, men and women, families)

Reasons for Success

Individuals/Presenters

  • Anne-Marie is a local author with national prominence
  • Both presenters are university affiliates
  • Anne-Marie published a new, well-received book on the topic last fall
  • Unique point of view because the couple came to present in conversation with one another, rather than just one or the other presenting
  • Presenters left a lot of time for Q&A from audience and took time to answer thoughtfully

Topic

  • Topic is of importance to a wide range of community members

Timing

  • Convenient Sunday afternoon time slot works for a lot of people

Overall Lessons

  • Local voices are important
  • But so are national voices
  • Pursuing certain speakers is worth it (took four months to confirm)
  • Sunday afternoon is a good time slot
  • Choosing a topic that is important to a wide constituency is helpful (duh!)
  • Slightly different angle on the conversation -- Anne-Marie gives many, frequent public presentations but not often accompanied in conversation by her husband whose perspective is very important in the conversation

Crazy for Cookbooks: Meet the Cookbook Connoisseurs

Princeton is a town of foodies. The idea for this event came during a conversation between myself and a local food blogger as we talked about our favorite cookbooks. The blogger knew several people in the area that were serious cookbook collectors and so we decided to put together a program that highlighted cookbooks both past and present. The event was held at 7 pm on a weeknight in early December and had 56 people attend.

We put together a panel that was composed of area food writers, chefs and publishers to lead a discussion on what makes a good cookbook and to reveal their personal favorites.

Other topics that were discussed included the future of cookbooks and top holiday gift picks.

 

Rachel Weston, a culinary educator and author of “New Jersey Fresh”, moderated the event. Some of the panelists had current cookbooks on the market so a book signing followed the Q&A/discussion. I set up a photo booth so participants could share their favorite cookbooks and used these photos to create an album on flickr. Attendees were encouraged to bring their favorite cookbook and they were eager to share their selections with the panelists and each other. Many audience members had cookbook collections of  200+ volumes and one person in attendance estimated her collection to be over 3,000. Quite a lively discussion ensued on how best to categorize and organize cookbooks.

This cost for this event was minimal as all of the panelists agreed to speak for free. The library supplied some light refreshments (total of $30). We had a local bookstore on hand to sell copies of the cookbooks for signing.

The success of this event was likely due to several factors: 1. People love food and cooking 2. We had great PR for this event from the library and others ( including lots of blog posts and social media references from the panelists both before and after) 3. Our panelists were local and are well-known by many in our community.

Sample Photobooth Photos:

More photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/princetonpubliclibrary/albums/72157660147160944

To tie this program into our collection, I did a survey of staff to find out their favorite cookbooks and created a book list in our online catalog that was then promoted via a blog post:

http://princetonlibrary.org/blog/2015/11/lets-cook. I also set up a book display with the program poster (see below) on display and used the staff favorites as well as other cookbooks for the display. We had to refresh the display more than once a day as the books were picked up and checked out as fast as we could display them.

Submitted by: Janie Hermann, Public Programming Librarian, Princeton Public Library

TechFest!

LibraryLinkNJ -- The New Jersey Library Cooperative

Shared by Sophie Brookover

Program:

TechFest (which we’ve also called Tech Speed Dating) is an event LibraryLinkNJ has held in three locations around the state for three years. We produced it for the library community, and it should be easily adaptable for use in public libraries, on a wide variety of topics.

Format

  • This is a half-day program.
  • We work with 6 speakers, each at small presentation tables for their 20-minute Table Talks
  • Participants move around the room to visit each table for the Table Talks and discussion.
  • Table Talks go on for two hours, followed by Guerrilla Tech Hacks. This is a lively, interactive crowdsourced conversation about technology, based on the Guerrilla Storytime method pioneered by our colleagues in Storytime Underground. This, too, can be adapted for virtually any topic!
  • We archive the handouts created by our presenters on our website.

Tips & Tricks


Program Title: “All Things Irish” Celebration

Date and Time of Program: Sunday, October 25th from 2-4pm

Library: Ocean City Free Public Library, Ocean City, NJ

Programming Librarian: Julie Brown

Context: This program was part of a larger series for our community reads program (“OC Reads: Our Community Reads”). The OC Reads Program is an annual program designed to “bring people together through literature by encouraging them to read the same book and participate in discussions and other events centered on that book.” Our book for 2015 was “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline. The “All Things Irish” program was the second program in the series, and it was dedicated to the celebration of Irish culture and heritage. This was in honor of the main character of the book “Orphan Train,” a character whose Irish heritage is woven into the storyline.

Full Description: The program was organized with the help of the OC Reads Committee and two library staff members, the adult programming librarian and the library director. The committee is made up of community members who are representatives of each of the book clubs in Ocean City. The “All Things Irish” program was created with the goal of celebrating Irish culture and heritage. We wanted to showcase local talent and community members, and to create a positive event filled with music and discussion through community engagement. The event was free and open to the public.

The program was divided into three parts:

1.) 30-minute talk by a long-time Ocean City resident who grew up in Ireland. The guest speaker spoke about her time growing up in a small, historic village in Ireland. She discussed some of the cultural traditions and folklore, and made for an engaging speaker.

2.) Musical performance by The Emerald Isle Academy of Irish Dance, a local Irish dance company. The Emerald Isle Academy of Irish Dance brought a group of 10 students (ranging in age from around 6-16) to do a 25-minute dance routine.

3.) Musical performance by The Holy Spirit Chorale, a high school chorale with special student performer on bagpipes. The Chorale was from Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, NJ and they performed for 25 minutes. There were 15 students and the music instructor accompanied on keyboard. The instructor herself was Irish and spoke for a few minutes about her heritage.

Light refreshments, coffee, and tea were served at the conclusion of the program.


Book Buzz for Book Groups

Darien Library - Spring 2015
Marianne Paterniti mpaterniti@darienlibrary.org
Pat Sheary
psheary@darienlibrary.org

Who? 

Primarily for book groups but all interested readers are welcome.

What?                                                                                                                                   
Invited publishers’ reps from the primary publishing companies each do a 10 minute slide presentation of new and upcoming books selected as particularly good book group reads.

When? 

 Scheduled to correspond to Book Expo America when many new titles come out.  Spring is a popular time when groups start to make their next year’s reading list.

Where?

 Louise Parker Berry Community Room (auditorium) to accommodate large audiences.

Why?

To create momentum, enthusiasm, and to further a sense of community for book group participants and to fulfill a desire that our patrons have for new and upcoming titles.  To establish the library as the center for all things book group related.

Details of Book Buzz for Book Groups – Spring 2015

The program attracted over 100 people.

 Our marketing campaign composed of sending evites to our registered books groups, hardcopy invitations in all books checked out to book groups, digital panel displays, posters advertising the event distributed around the Library and announcements on our website.  

Our representatives generously provided ARCs and book bags for the occasion which we put on display and made available for our audience.  In addition we provided each guest with a special favor, a post- it booklet.

This year we asked each presenter to tell us his/her favorite cookie dessert.  At the end of the program the rep stood by his/her dessert and audience members were invited to join the presenters for a cookie and a chat.

What we learned

Evening program in our community attracts more people.                                                                                  
Prepare handout packets in advance of program.                                                                                                
Refreshments better after program rather than before.


Adult Day Camp Series
Mallory Arents, Head of Adult Programming at Darien Library
203-669-5254
marents@darienlibrary.org

Are you yearning for those summer camp days of yore? A new series geared towards 20 and 30-somethings invites community members to take a break from unanswered emails and netflix queues and, instead, take a trip back to childhood. Darien Library’s newly established Adult Day Camp series has brought in a new group of patrons: young professionals looking for community and events outside the typical bar scene. Our motto is meet new people, bring a friend, get weird.

Steal these program ideas

We host Nerf Blaster Capture the Flag, Boozy Arts and Crafts (adult coloring books at a local bar), Trampoline Dodge Ball, Broke Ass Holidays (Holiday crafts), Forever Young Book Group (YA books for those who are a little more A and a lot less Y), Board Game Battle Royale (lightning-fast, tournament-style board game showdown), Tie-dying for Grownups, and Plant Printmaking.

Marketing

All of our events are marketed solely through Meetup.com. The real key to success? Trickery. Looking at our Adult Day Camp Meetup page, you have to dig to discover that these are library sponsored events. Internally at Darien Library, we’re honest that the word “library” has immediate connotations to many. By offering a fresh set of events themed around nostalgia and getting to know one another, we’re able to change that “library” connotation on the sly. Because the events are marketed only through Meetup, and not through our normal marketing channels, the events have a  little air of “special”. The event descriptions for Adult Day Camp move away from professional, publicity jargon. The voice used is honest, warm, and welcoming. Similarly, we know no one wants to come to “Holiday Crafts”. Call it “Broke Ass Holidays” and you’ll pack the house.

Impact

“Your library was different—‘cooler’ is the closest word that comes to mind.”

With each event, I always have several people mention something along the lines of, “after college, it’s so difficult to meet new friends.” Our attendance numbers have been steady, nothing earth-shattering, but the real impact has been the relationships forged. If the library can help play a role in acclimating new community members to the area and bridging people together, then that’s valuable. I just learned that two of our attendees from our Forever Young Book Group went on a DATE last night, and if that’s not the best compliment one can receive after a program, then I don’t know what is.

The future

I was really lucky that our Board and Director supported this initial trial-run series. Based on success, we’ve upped our programs from one event every two months, to one a month. We’re now on the hunt for a grant to have a little more legroom to play with and are in the early stages of starting a “Junior Board” to help cultivate the next generation of volunteers and philanthropists.

Science Café

Submitted by:

Tony Iovino

Supervisor of Community Services

Oceanside Library

 Science Café is an informal discussion with a scientist on a current issue. You can register your program at www.sciencecafes.org and there you will find  suggestions about how to run the program, find scientists, etc.

We run the program for adults, although our high school AP science classes have offered extra credit if the students attend. Our attendance so far has ranged from 26-52.

The program runs between an hour and an hour and a half. The scientist opens the session by talking for approx. 10 minutes.

My job as the moderator is to keep the conversation going and to not allow anyone-including the scientist- from dominating the conversation. I prepare 5-10 questions to ask the scientist and the patrons to keep the conversation going.

For example: When we had a computer ethicist speak on Is Privacy Dead in the Internet Age? I went around the room asking each person if they were willing to allow the government access to all their emails, apps and texts. A lively conversation ensued.

The cost is minimal. The scientists I have found thus far come free; I put out coffee and cookies.

I have found scientists thus far by contacting our local universities’ science departments and local science organizations (Brookhaven National Labs, a local children’s science center, etc.).

The preparation time spent probably averages two hours per program, including finding a speaker, researching enough to ask questions, preparation of marketing material, etc.

NAP: Sharing is Caring | Steal this Program!

Erinn Batykefer, New Canaan Library

Program name: Stitch It!

Short description: weekly intergenerational needle crafts (mostly knitting and crochet) skill share

Funding: partially grant funded, partially programming budget

Adorable Pictures:

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Yes, every one of our pictures has at least 2 generations, and sometimes 4!

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Long description:

Stitch It! was a collaborative grant effort between Adult Programming and Teen Services late in 2014. The goal was to add some non-tech based tools to our growing makerspace, which had 3D printers, scanners, and other tools.  We are also a very new team (most people on staff have been hired in the last 3 years, including new leadership), and were hired specifically to make changes to outdated library service.  The main goals of the original grant to a town Artisan’s Guild were:

  1. to add non-digital hands-on making tools to our makerspace
  2. to add a skill share style program to our calendar (most of our stuff had been entirely passive, lecture or performance) to expand the variety of learning entry points we provide
  3. to test intergenerational programs in our community.

Additional goals:

  1. Use our gallery space and make it a welcoming, active art space, where both viewing and making take place
  2. If successful, build community by offering a charity stitching project option to attendees who feel comfortable with their skills
  3. If successful, look for ways to more fully integrate hands-on and digital making tools in our makerspace

We won a partial grant last year in March, bought a ton of supplies, and held our first meeting on Wednesday April 8th 2015. The time frame is after school, from 4-5:30 in our Gallery. Most of the funding and marketing is done through Adult Programming, but we chose the time carefully and marketed Stitch It! to teens, tweens, parents, and older adults through appropriate channels, and crossed our fingers.

It’s been a huge success.  We’re a small library, but our first meeting had 12 people, and all of them were excited to learn and share (or re-learn).  We have had as many as 25 people take over all the tables in our gallery to sit together and work on projects.  We can count on at least 10 people every week, even in the dead of summer and around the holidays.

Additionally, the feel of the program has been incredible. We have a great group of teens and tweens, and they don’t act weird around one another, or around the spectrum of adults who attend.  My favorite session happened when Natalie, one of our youngest knitters at 6, was learning how to fix a dropped stitch with Jean, who came to Stitch It! at 76 to re-learn a skill she hadn’t used in 30 years!

How we expanded in response to this success:

  • We listened to what people were interested in making at weekly get-togethers and added beading and embroidery supplies to our knitting and crochet stuff.  
  • We held a Knit-a-Thon outside in early October and collected scarves and hats that people made at home or during Stitch It! for Bridgeport Rescue Mission to distribute at Thanksgiving. This was a great PR boost and resulted in both donated scarves for the Knit-a-Thon and donated materials for Stitch It!.
  • We wrote a second grant for basic sewing machines and ran a test-run series of workshops during Stitch It! in November and December to assess best practices for teaching and facilitating in-library check out of machines and tools. We’re currently using that info to create a certification class for sewing machine use, which will be part of our Fall maker courses; at the end of a certification, patrons will be able to “rent” a machine for up to 2 hours at a time to work on projects in our maker lab.  

What we’re excited about

We just bought 2 more basic Brother sewing machines and wrote our second Artisan’s Guild grant for a programmable embroidery machine. We hope the embroidery machine, which you use by digitally designing a pattern or picture and uploading it into the machine, will make a clear connection between handcrafts and digital creation tools, and allow our makerspace to be an environment where all kinds of creativity and making are supported and encouraged.

Tips / Caveats

  • Supplies take up a LOT of room.  Have a plan about where the hell you’re going to put this stuff.
  • You will get donations.  A lot of them. People will give you awesome stuff and heinous stuff.
  • Be clear about the point of a skill share.  Latch onto people who come who have skills and help them share with the people who want to learn.  Our teen librarian was our resident knitter at first and ended up spending each meeting (which is a LOT of time to take away from other duties) teaching people till we nudged those folks over to other knitters at the table. It’s more hands-off now, and people still come and are happy!
  • Have available: materials of course, but also how-to books, computer with a playlist of how-to YouTube videos, etc.
  • Budget for new supplies.


On a Saturday afternoon in October 2015 the Madison Public Library held Bones & Scones. This program brought in several writers from the Mystery Writers of America and several writers from local author groups to read excerpts of original cozy mystery writing in front of a live audience who were partaking in coffee, tea, scones and other pastries in the Chase Auditorium of the Madison Public Library.

Cozy mysteries are distinct from regular mysteries in that graphic action and violence are downplayed in favor of humor and a sense of community. Cozy mystery series writers will often employ a theme to add to the story, such as setting the mysteries in a bakery or museum, or including a recipe or sewing pattern that is related to the plot. This genre felt very thematic and autumnal for the Fall programming season.

Development: Based on circulation interest from the cozy genre by the collection specialist for the Mystery Collection, a desire to do more literature/collection-based programming, and a conversation with a staff member who is a member of the Mystery Writers of America.

Publicity: Usual program publicity (flyers, emails, websites, book displays, social media, and newspapers) and publicity on the part of the writers’ groups and MWA.

Execution: Three staff members were present to set-up and monitor the refreshments (provided by the library via the FOL), as well as act as master of ceremonies – introducing each reader and leading a small panel discussion after the readings.

Legacy: Lasting relationship for future programs with MWA and a small bump in mystery circulation that month.  Considering how we adapt this program for other collections and genres.

Benefits: Mystery Writers of America writers cannot accept payment for programs don’t under the organization, and cultivates interest in a library’s collections.

Attendance: 20-25 people – which is quite good for a Saturday afternoon adult program (for us).

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Robert Barbanell, Supervising Librarian, Elizabeth Public Library Branch Libraries

  • Held at the Elmora Branch of the Elizabeth Public Library on Wednesday,  June 26, 2013.
  • Program started at 6:30 pm and lasted approximately 35 minutes.
  • Communication between Field Station Dinosaurs in Secaucus and myself was primarily by phone, with some email communication.
  • Planning commenced about three months prior to the program, at the end of March of 2013.
  • Because of the nature of Field Station, they are truly off-season until late winter. I contacted them early enough which was best as slots for the summer filled up lightning fast.
  • Schedules often did not mix between myself and presenters, and so there was quite a lag time between conversations about program.
  • When we did email, it was over promotional materials for the program, including the above logo to include in our library flyers. It took a few emails back and forth, but they were finally able to attach a logo I could download and work with.
  • Promotional material on Field Station’s part was great: they sent me plenty of bookmarks for the children, along with a family four pack of passes to Field Station in Secaucus which we raffled off.
  • This program represented our official summer kickoff program. Flyers were circulated throughout all library locations and posted at nj.com via the Star-Ledger. We were on the cusp of developing Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts etc., and I wonder how much better response might have been if we were up and running with social media.  The program was also advertised in our monthly newsletter, and an email blast sent out by our assistant director.
  • A sign-up sheet was affixed within a three-ring binder at the Elmora branch to faciliate sign-ups. Patrons were encouraged to call or email me to sign-up as well.
  • The very format of the program is what really worked so well. Because of the number in attendance (56), it was standing room only in our meeting room. This is where the first half of the program began. There were stories and song, and patrons were then led out of the meeting room, through the library, and out the West Grand Street entrance to view the animatronic dinosaur on the front lawn. It was a smash, and a smash almost literally. With the performance on the lawn, cars stopped to take a peak and snap pictures on West Grand Street, with a few vehicles stopping short.

Program review for my July 2013 monthly report to my director for the Board of Trustees

  • The six-foot tall, fifteen-foot wide robotic dinosaur, T-Rex literally stopped traffic on West Grand Street during the Field Station Dinosaurs presentation of their Library Tour. Field Station Dinosaurs are in their second year of existence, and have put together a well-run and educational program. Fifty-six persons attended the program, held at the Elmora branch on Wednesday, June 26. The first part of the program was held inside, where patrons were treated to a troubadour on guitar singing songs and reading stories. The singing continued as patrons filed out of the branch in a single line, and were then treated to the appearance of the robotic T-Rex on the Elmora front lawn. Another approximately sixteen persons looked on as cars either pulled to the curb or stopped on West Grand Street to get better look. It was a great kickoff program to the summer reading season.

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Hoboken Library’s Most Awesome Program - Senior Day - Heidi Schwab

  • Offer it every year ; it builds on the year before and gets more popular
  • It takes  a team to coordinate
  • Start at least two months ahead
  • Offer lunch
  • Have excellent entertainment which focuses on their age group; last year for Sinatra’s 100 birthday (he is Hoboken’s favorite son) we had a Sinatra based program
  • Know your patrons; what they like to eat, drink and enjoy
  • Transportation: We organized with local buses to transport people from the senior center
  • They like swag; we ordered stuff with the Hoboken Library's logo
  • We had extra drinks and cookies because they like to pocket some food
  • Have all food available so seniors go up to the buffet table only once
  • They are insulted at the thought of a boxed lunch and like a selection
  • Make room for walkers and wheel chairs
  • Make Trivia sheets to keep people occupied if they arrived early and it is a way to break the ice
  • Trivia or guessing games from the staff help to keep people entertained while the talent is setting up
  • Never have the presenter during lunch because seniors don't listen while they eat (this from a professional presenter)
  • Do not wait too long to serve the food, people get upset
  • We had tablecloths to make the room seem upscale

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On the Road Again ...

Adults-to-Go at Red Hook Public Library

No money? No space? No problem!

There are many wonderful things about having a library in a 151-year-old octagonal building. But with 4,700 square feet divided over three floors (and into rooms with 5-7 walls), space is always an issue – even before we began a renovation project that took 4,000 square feet out of commission. So what’s a small rural library to do?

Hit the road. Instead of waiting for people to come to the library for programs, or turning people away due to capacity issues, we began to look beyond our eight walls. We now consider the entire town our venue. We partner with local businesses and other organizations to host programming, which has led to some amazing relationships, bigger turnout, driven more foot traffic to local businesses, and raised the profile of the library.

Here’s some of what we’ve learned:

Ask for help

As soon as we received a start date for construction we started reaching out to our contacts in the community. Our message was simply, “We need your help.” Businesses and institutions came through – in a big way! All of our regular weekly programs were relocated to local venues, allowing us to continue to offer about 90% of our regularly-scheduled programming.

Be helpful

The Enchanted Café hosts our Spinning Yarns Knitters, two book groups, and other programs. To our delight, two programs that never caught on at the library (board games and movies) were hits at the Enchanted Café. The proprietor, Joe, happened to be a film projectionist in a former life, so runs a great movie night. This match has proven to be a win-win; the café had been struggling financially – our patrons who come to programs are happy to buy hot beverages, meals and treats, and keep the place full. Neither program costs us anything but staff, and time to promote.

Partner, Promote & Build Relationships

We have also housed programs in four other venues including two other businesses, the Village Courthouse, and a historic inn. We use the Elmendorph Inn each Thursday from 2-6 p.m. for the duration of the renovation to provide one-on-one tax help, job search help, and health navigators (we partner with other agencies to offer these services). This building is run by our local historic society, and they charge a fee for use, but slashed it in half so that we could continue to provide these services during construction.

Think Outside the Octagon

We’ve learned that some programs do better off site, where the atmosphere is more appealing and people can have a meal. We’re considering moving the knitting group to the café indefinitely. They have a couch. We don’t. We’ll never do a movie night on our own again. And thanks to our community, we don’t have to.