Every library is looking for a spark of "magic" that sends patrons stampeding over with enthusiasm and anticipation. This is not an easy task. With budgets draining and demand for libraries rising, what is a multi-tasking librarian to do? Take a deep breath and unleash programs that are not only economically sensible but do not take a lot of effort or time, which will make patrons believe that the librarian is a miracle worker.
In areas that are serving patrons who are leanring English as a second language the library is an ideal place to meet with their literacy partners. These new "neighbors" have come from many different places in search of a better life in the States. A social time to help these new immigrants practice speaking English is a great way to keep these students coming to the library. Little by little, these new citizens will discover the benefits of a library card, storytime and homework help for their family. Imagine, that this can happen just by offering someone a cup of coffee (or two) and friendly conversations. Programing can't get any easier!
Reluctant readers have a special spot in the hearts of all librarians. Its in our nature to want to reach out to them and guide them into reading adventures that they will be sure to enjoy. However, over the years, people have become snobby over what is acceptable reading and what does not pass the smell test. With this attitude is it no wonder that non-readers from thrity, twenty readers refuse to go into a library today? Thankfully, graphic novels have helped with the changes in attitude towards acceptable reading. A program to help entice these readers into the library is a "comic book swap" day. Where comic book enthusiasts can share and swap their favorite comic books. Invite the participants back with another program such as a movie night theme where comic book heroes are featured.
With the economy as shakey as it is, many people are working at trying to save money on esential things such as clothing. Knitting has become an excellent way to save money, be creative and meet new friends if the local library hosts a "Knitters" club. What makes this program a breeze is that it fits age groups from teen to adults. It is gender friendly, men can learn to knit a mean cap too, just ask Russel Crowe. On top of that, once the group gets started there are knitters from every stage, from advanced to beginners, who love to share what they know and help their fellow knitters.
The love of reading is what libraries are best known for promoting. What better way to engage readers and challenge them at the same time than to host a read-a-thon. Pick a day or night where readers come in with their favorite book to read for as long as they possibly can keep their eyes open. This program can help the library in ways of fundraising, inviting businesses to become involved by sponsoring the event or partnering with literacy groups to promote reading as a healthy, everyday activity for families. It's also a great photo ops for the local newspapers.
Finally, if all the ideas above don't inspire the multi-tasking librarian, try a low key idea that gets big bang for the library's buck. never forgetting that patrons can now "visit" their library in the virtual world. Host a "Tweet" fest where avid readers can tweet about their favorite new read at the libray. Its as easy as deciding on a time and day where tweeters and librarians will tweet. Nothing more is needed! If you have patrons who have never tweeted but wanted to know what the buzz was all about. Invite them to come to the library when the "tweet" fest is happening and offer to show them how to get into the fun! It's kind of like knocking off two birds with one stone. (Yes the pun was intended!)
It doesn't have to take a million dollar program to get patrons running to the library. As a matter of fact, with a little quiet time, a pad of paper and a look through the local paper, inspirations can strike at any moment for a cool idea. If that doesn't work, check back at this blog. Together there may be a few good ideas that can be conjured up for library magic for your community.