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.


Adult Programming

Library program ideas for adults are everywhere! Look around your library and your community for inspiration.

Ages 18 and Up - Ideas/Resources

Youth Programming

Early Literacy – Birth to 5

Birth to 5 - Ideas/Resources

Professional Development Resources

Programming Ideas

Theme Based Crafts, Songs & Fingerplays

Children & Teens

Ages 5 to 18 - Ideas/Resources

For use with ages 5 to teen (Listed Alphabetically)



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