ICYMI: Program Speed Dating with the Programming Librarian Interest Group

Have you ever wished you could have just one hour to mingle with the best programming librarians, see samples of their finest events, and ask them how they did it? That’s exactly what attendees at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference got at Program Speed Dating with the Programming Librarian Interest Group.

Ten programming librarians gave lightning talks about some of their most successful programs while approximately 80 attendees table-hopped to hear as much as they could in one hour. For those who missed this event at the conference or were #ALALeftBehind, here are a sampling of ideas to inspire you.

Round table of people speaking about LibraryCon program
Zoeanne Jarrells talks about LibraryCon at Program Speed Dating with the Programming Librarian Interest Group at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

For adults

Princeton Public Library shared their daylong exploration of genealogy resources called Research Your Roots, featuring three experts on genetics and genealogy. In the program, professional geneologists gave talks on evaluating genealogical information, organizing your research and solving family mysteries with genetic genealogy, concluding with a Q&A session with the speakers.

While their program cost the library $1,400 for the one-day event, they received help from local sponsors. Gayle Stratton, who shared this program, also gave some tips on cutting costs for smaller libraries, including not catering lunch and finding local experts instead of hosting one from out of town. 

For teens (mostly)

York County Library discussed their LibraryCon, which featured author panels and book signings, artists and vendors, game demonstrations and a cosplay contest. While Zoeanne Jarrells was able to plan this entire event at no cost to her library, she did partner with local businesses and gathered donations for prizes.

Her most important tip for planning this type of event was to determine whether book sales will be allowed, and if so, to establish a partnership with a local bookstore before contacting any authors. She focused on authors who had written space-themed books to go along with their summer reading program, but this could be adapted to anything happening at your library. 

For families

Sherburne Memorial Library presented one of the largest programs of the day: the Vermont Fairy Tale Festival. The event is held every other year on the Sherburne Memorial Library grounds and includes libraries from surrounding communities as well.

Each library sets up a tent showcasing a different fairy tale with crafts, storytelling, puppetry or music. They invite food and craft vendors, costumed fairy tale characters and even a Viking reenactment group.

While this ambitious program does require more funding, Jane Ramos explained that they conduct a number of fundraisers that have become popular events in their own right, including a .5K (1640 ft.) Dash for Donuts, Mad Hatter Tea Parties for kids and adults, Mystery Nights, Sip & Spells, and various book sales and raffles.

Learn more about the programs featured at Program Speed Dating:

Interested in connecting with other programming librarians? Join the Programming Librarian Interest Group on Facebook