Cultivating Creative Adult Programming
Presenters: Nate Hill (Brooklyn Public Library - Bushwick Branch Library in New York, NY), Mandy McGee & Monica Harris (Oak Park Public Library in Oak Park IL)
Nate Hill started the presentation by discussing some of the programs happening at the Bushwick Branch Library. He attended a book reading at a local store and introduced himself to start a dialogue with people at the event. From his outreach effort book readings were brought to the library and a shelf of recommended reading materials was created by the attendees and library users.
Using information from their local history collection they created a website and event: "Past, Present, Future of Food: Bushwick, Brooklyn". People came to the library to share their experiences on the topic of local foods and gardening. A google groups page resulted from the event and it is a thriving venue for people to continue sharing their experiences online.
Nate found a blog entry for the business, Zappos, and discovered many great aspects that translate to libraries like providing a tour to each new patron, empowering employees to be spokespersons (at Zappos employees are required to open a Twitter account!), flattening the hierarchy, etc...
20's and 30's programming and services at the library were then discussed by, Mandy McGee... Begin by identifying why you are targeting your audience (20's & 30's coming to storytimes but not adult programs) and why they are important. Assess your audience (focus groups, surveys, drop-in forums) to gather information and use an enthusiastic staff member to lead the effort.
The OPPL decided to create a non-traditional book group based upon the need for 20's & 30's programming. They decided to hold the book discussion group out of the library to places where the audience already was gathering - local bars in the community of course! Held the book discussions after work (8pm), in a relaxed environment, access to food & drink, etc...
Two things were identified as important... size of establishment/ability to host large number of attendees (bar with a separate functions room) & choosing the best books. They picked titles that they had read and knew would be good for discussion. Simple is sometimes better, you don't necessarily have to bring in a local author or have a theme.
Started using an online social website to complement the physical meetings. GoodReads is used to take the discussion beyond the meetings, event notifications are sent through the site, and it allows people to share other reading interests, etc... Also started a blog, used Wordpress and incorporated a clean design, easy navigation, and visual appealing interface. It allows people to make comments (they are moderated), search the library catalog, etc... Some web 2.0 tools turned out to be unnecessary such as a Pro Flickr Account. It is important to not be afraid to admit when something isn't working.
Off-shoots of the book discussion program... were discussed by Teen Librarian, Monica Harris. They wanted to offer something after hours that was interesting and exotic! Decided to use National Gaming Day to create a "Hi - Lo Tech" Gaming Event incorporating Wii games, board games, DJs - Music, and 80's themed snacks. Used tournaments (Scrabble & Mario Kart) and open play for the event, other games included Big Brain Academy, Guitar Hero & Rock Band - very popular, etc... and people brought their own games. Offered some small prizes and home made trophies for the tournaments.
Local media - newspaper with a blog promoted the event. They had a volunteer with graphic design experience develop a special poster for the event. There were only 4 people from the book group that attended of about 70 attendees. This was a way to bring a different type of programming to the target audience.
The next event...was a pop culture trivia night, "Hop on Pop". Small groups of people as teams, used Google Slideshow to create the quiz, and a facilitator ran the event. There were small prizes and trophies offered at the event. Used YouTube Clips, Audio Clips, etc... to spice up the trivia.
Lessons Learned...Guitar Hero and Rock Band were very popular and future events focused on these games will be organized. Trivia Night was a lot of work but simpler options are available (using Trivia Pursuit Cards). These programs can bring staff together and allow them to incorporate their interests.
More ideas for 20's & 30's programs... speed dating in the stacks or romantic self help (apparently very popular in Australian Libraries), open mic nights (poetry), sponsor a scavenger hunt, live band karaoke, Wiimbeldon (Wii Sports - Golf), after hours board game night, financial literacy, buying your first home, resume help and entry-level job fairs, mock interview opportunity, intro. to wedding planning, sustainability and organic gardening, crafts and do-it-yourself (use websites to find ideas: i.e craftster.org), project runway competition (1 hour to construct an outfit for a model), Top Chef competition, photoshop/podcasting/e-business, interior design for small spaces, book swap, bring in a popular author, walking tour of community, and more.
Some Audience Questions...What about staffing the library for after hours events? Get board approval and it can be more expensive to meet security and staffing levels for after hours events. Sometimes people volunteer for the event and events happen infrequently to allow for extra expenditure, planning, and work that goes into events. How do you promote the events? Facebook page, blog, website, submit to local newspapers/media, postcards and flyers at popular locations in the community, etc... Are you attracting other groups than your targeting audience? Yes, but is small numbers and people have not been turned away.