Programming has become an essential part of library service. According to the Public Libraries in the United States Survey programming attendance has been on the increase nationwide.
As a library programmer you may specialize in a specific age group or do it all! Either way the planning, preparing, producing and evaluation of programs will have the same nuts and bolts which are outlined below.
The importance of year-round programming for all ages
- Your community benefits from library programming.
- Successful library programming addresses community interests and needs by:
- Connecting people with each other and essential services
- Delivering high quality public education
- Catering to interests rather than ages
- Encouraging Civic Engagement
- Making people’s lives better
- Providing literacy opportunities through:
- Adult literacy programs
- Literacy is necessary for adults to function on the job and in society, achieve their goals, and develop their knowledge and potential.
- The essential skills needed to meet any definition of literacy will necessarily change as the demands of the workplace, the family, and the society change.
- Literacy training leads to economic self-sufficiency for individuals and families.
- Digital literacy programs
- Communicate with family, friends, coworkers, and prospective employers.
- Search for information including advice related to healthcare.
- Confidently engage in online banking and online shopping.
- Use technology to complete job applications and other online forms.
- Understand how information is accessed and transferred using various digital devices.
- Early literacy programs
- Ages birth through school entry.
- Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write.
- Early literacy story times involve the adults, making them part of the story time experience
- Family literacy programs
- Summer Reading programs
- Use summer reading programs to build collaboration for the benefit of children, families & individuals in their local community.
- Utilize the appeal of summer to create opportunities for children, families & individuals to take advantage of programs that look and feel different from the rest of the year.
- Offer opportunities for reading as well as arts, recreation, and personal development.
- Summer reading programs assist with learning retention between school years. Instead of losing knowledge and skills during the summer months, kids who attend reading programs actually show increases in knowledge and skills.
- Summer reading is for everyone, and the state now recognizes programs for adults (not just kids) as an important part of summer programming.
- Financial literacy programs
- Health literacy programs
- Eco-literacy programs
- Help people of all ages understand how the natural world “works”
- Connect people with the outdoors
- Encourage a feeling of stewardship for the natural world among community members
- The library benefits from offering programs:
- Positions the library as a valuable community partner in education and establishes the library as a vital part of community life
- Introduces community members to the resources of the public library
- Attracts new customers to the library & reach people who would not usually come to the library
- Creates positive publicity for the library
- Promotes community involvement in the mission of the library
- Establishes partnerships & collaborations with community partners. Community connections are essential to a sustainable library.
- Increases circulation of library materials
Library programs are for everyone
- Library programs need to be accessible by anyone in the community that would like to participate.
- It is your responsibility as a place of public accommodation to be accessible to anyone who would like to access your services.
- Words Matter: Bringing in new people to library programs means an increasing the awareness of community members with disabilities. Most disabilities are invisible – don’t count on being able to identify people with disabilities.
- Include a statement of accessibility in your newsletter, on your website and in your promotional materials
- Please contact us 2 weeks in advance of a program so that we will have enough time to make the event accessible to you
Best practices for program planning and scheduling
- Know your reasons for holding a library program.
- Review last year’s programming statistics.
- Establish goals & objectives for this year’s programming with your Library Director.
- Know your library’s resources.
- Plan the components of your program.
- Seek community support for your program.
- Publicize and promote your program both in the library and throughout your community.
- Communicate with co-workers about preparations, registration and programming so everyone in the library is knowledgeable about the programming at the library.
- After Programs: send thank yous, collect & report results, evaluate.
- Programming Librarian [ALA] – A place to share and browse programs, learn from fellow programming librarians and explore learning and grant opportunities.
- ALA Programs Office – The ALA Public Programs Office promotes cultural and community programming as an essential part of library service.
- Project Outcome [PLA]- Performance Outcome Measures for Public Libraries Initiative
- Webjunction – Programming webinars/documents
- NYS Summer Reading Program – Resources for librarians and educators to make your Summer Reading Program a success!
- The National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment [NILPPA] – A research project by the American Library Association – aims to develop a research agenda to understand the impacts of library public programs nationwide.
- MHLS Programming discussion list – A communication forum for MHLS libraries on all aspects of library programming for patrons from birth to adult, including programming for families, communities, summer reading, early literacy, family literacy, digital literacy, outreach to the community through programming , piggyback presenter opportunities and training opportunities relevant to the audience.
Did you know creating classes and workshops around interests often proves more successful than targeting specific age groups? Intergenerational programs connect like minded individuals and help form new relationships in your community.
Library program ideas for adults are everywhere! Look around your library and your community for inspiration.
Early Literacy – Birth to 5
Professional Development Resources
Theme Based Crafts, Songs & Fingerplays
- Activity Idea Page – Theme based lesson plans.
- A to Z Teacher Stuff – Created by teachers for easy access to thematic units, lesson plans, printable worksheets and much more.
- Art Activities – Bright Ring Publishing brings you free art activities from author MaryAnn Kohl.
- Best Kids Books Site – Combines craft ideas, books, fingerplays and storytime theme ideas.
- Crayola Ideas – Search ideas by grade, subject, theme, and/or Crayola product.
- DLTK Printable Crafts – Printable crafts and coloring pages, listed by theme.
- Everything Preschool – Over 30,000 educational activities for preschoolers.
- First School Ideas – Preschool themes and lesson plans. Several in Spanish
- Gayle’s Preschool Rainbow Activity Central – Theme based program ideas for preschool programs.
- Hennepin County Library – Birth to 6: Book Lists, Early Literacy, Spanish, Storytimes
- Hummingbird Site – Free downloads and lesson plan ideas from Hummingbird Educational Resources.
- The Idea Box – Activities, crafts, recipes for crafts and for kids, games and songs
- Kididdles – Listen to the melody of your favorite kids or print lyrics and sheet music.
- Kizlcub – You can print everything on this site (PDF) and be ready to go. The Flashcard section even includes an MP3 file for letters and words.
- Mother Goose Page (Nursery Rhymes) – Many nursery rhymes with index.
- Northern California Librarians Ideas – Suggested Books (most are annotated), activities and crafts compiled by Penny Peck.
- Perpetual Preschool – Ideas for programs based on holidays, seasons, toddler themes.
- Preschool Express – An extensive site developed by author Jean Warren. Geared toward Toddlers and Preschoolers.
- Spoonful – Includes a craft finder, recipes and online games.
- Step by Step Storyhours – Programs by theme containing booklists, fingerplays, songs and crafts.
Children & Teens
For use with ages 5 to teen (Listed Alphabetically)
- American Library Association [ALA] – Celebration weeks and promotional events
- Anime Clubs – How to start an Anime Club
- Saturday Arts Lab @ SUNY New Paltz
- Banned Books Week [ALA]
- Battle of the Books [MHLS ]
- Bilingual / Spanish Programs [Texas State Library]
- Book Clubs/Book Discussion Groups
- Book-To-Movie Ideas
- Bookmark Design Contest Template
- Community Service Programs
- Arts-n-Crafts – Variety of simple crafts with full directions, including some holiday ideas.
- Cardboard Kids Toys – Instructions for making a variety of moveable children’s toys using recycled corrugated cardboard which you can get free from stores.
- Craft Index – Great site with alphabetical listings of crafts, further broken down into Preschool, Elementary, Preteen and Teen/Adult categories.
- Crafts for Kids, Too-More great ideas which change monthly
- Enchanted Learning – Wonderful site with crafts arranged by subject
- Idea Box – Ideas for activities, music, games,crafts, seasonal ideas.
- Paper Crafts – Many patterns for all kinds of objects to be made out of paper, including origami. Site also has links to other craft sites.
- Puppets – Everything you need to know about making puppets, writing puppet plays, and using puppets in your programs.
- Trash to Treasures – Ideas for many craft items you can create from recycled materials.
- CSI Program – forensic interactive game from Virtual Museum Canada
- Dog Therapy
- Environmental Programs
- Film Festival
- Fine Reduction Program – Fresh Start Cards (Give Teens a break on fines)
- Gaming Programs
- Movie Programs
- Mystery & Readers Theater Programs
- Passive Teen Programs [Texas State Library]
- Performers & Programs Database [NYS]
- Speed Stacking Tournaments
- Summer Reading Program – MHLS | NYS