From the old faithfuls to the less obvious, here's a list of spots to hit up when you need program ideas.
Have you read my recent post on job burnout yet? After I wrote it, a lot of you reached out to me to learn more about the resources I use to relight the fire of my passion for programming.
There are so many amazing blogs, websites and webinars out there that it can be hard to know where to start. Without further ado, here are a few of my favorites (aside from Programming Librarian, of course!).
The old faithfuls
When searching for program ideas, I always check out these tried and true websites first. These sites aren’t specific to library programming, but they usually have the latest on what is new and trendy with teens and young adults. When I want to learn more about current pop culture obsessions, these are my go-to sources.
- Kara’s Party Ideas: This is technically a party-planning blog, but I have gotten so much inspiration from the beautiful photography featured on the page. Kara is considered by many to be the Martha Stewart of the event planning world, and she has been featured as a Michael's Maker for Michael's stores and is a stylist for the Oriental Trading website. Did the summer reading theme A Universe of Stories leave you feeling uninspired? Search “aliens,” “outer space” or “galaxy” on this blog, and you’ll be overwhelmed by all the beautiful décor, snack ideas and game/craft ideas that pop up. Browse through her page when you’re feeling blah about program planning, and you’ll walk away with so many new ideas, from a Mother’s Day tea party to a kid-friendly version of Coachella.
- Hands on as We Grow. Looking for toddler-friendly craft ideas? Or maybe you need a fun science experiment for grade-school kids? From art projects and sensory bins to learning games and creative holiday crafts, it’s all on this blog. The author is a mom with three young boys who started the blog to help other busy parents who needed something fun and creative to keep their kids’ hands and minds occupied. You can browse by age or subject, and my favorite part of the site is the search bar — if you find yourself with an abundance of cardboard, for example, just type the word “cardboard” into the search bar, and you won’t believe how many projects come up!
- Infarrantly Creative: You can find just about any craft on this site, but it’s geared toward adult crafts rather than kids’. There are even some fun, easy recipes mixed in, as well as some holiday décor ideas.
Though my list of favorite library blogs could go on for pages, here are a few that I find most helpful when it comes to programming. Don’t forget to look on these blogs’ home pages to find even more recommended blogs!
- Abby the Librarian: This blog is very kid-centric and has amazing ideas for summer reading and science programs, along with some great book recommendations.
- In Short, I Am Busy: Jean the librarian shares all of her programming “recipes” along with her daily schedule on this blog. She discusses outreach, makerspaces, art workshops and so much more.
- Hafuboti: Rebecca is an outspoken and super creative librarian in Nebraska. She shares her display ideas, décor and program examples on this very fun blog. Don’t forget to browse through her archives.
- Lightsome Librarian: My all-time favorite resource for story time subjects and ideas.
- Ontarian Librarian: This blog is a new favorite of mine. There are tons of ideas here for all age groups, not just kids.
There’s nothing better than a really great webinar. My favorites are the ones that just hit you with program idea after program idea, and you end up with pages of notes. There are a lot of them out there, but these are some of the best. You’ll have to register for some of these, but they are all free to watch/listen to.
- How to Break Up Boredom: Interactive Events for All Ages
- From Tots to Teens: STEAM-Powered Ideas for Programming
- Adult Programs on a $0 Budget
- Bigger on the Inside: Programming for Small Spaces
- Size Doesn’t Matter: Transforming Big Ideas into Small Library Environments
Search for inspiration wherever you can find it. Make a point to visit nearby libraries and see what they’re up to. If you’re on a trip, stop by the local library and steal some of their great program ideas.
Visit local small bookstores; my favorite is The Story Shop in Monroe, Ga.; they have the most amazing, creative décor.
If your library can afford it, go to as many library conferences and meetings as you can. I find the ARSL conference to be especially helpful since I work in such a small library. I always walk away from conferences with a notebook chock-full of notes and ideas.
Please comment below and share your favorite blogs or resources!