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While the Civil War was all about conflict, as programming librarians we’re all on the same side now—facing the challenge of getting more patrons into our libraries to enjoy the diverse, quality programming we offer. Rural libraries, though, may face a few additional challenges in programming—limited resources, increased travel expenses in bringing in speakers or programs—but there’s a silver lining, too. Your library can become the cultural center of the community or region without having a lot of competition from other venues.
The act of planning programs is a big job with a lot to consider. Where will you have your program? How big is the space? Do you need to limit guests; will you need to have them register ahead of time? Will weather or parking spaces be factors? Can you choose a date and time when there are not too many other conflicts for your target audience? How much staff time or money will you need? How will you evaluate the program’s success afterward? These are just some of the questions you need to answer as you plan.
We’ve all been there. You plan a great program, and only a handful of people show up—or no one does. Maybe something that has always done well in the past mysteriously fails to draw an audience. Maybe you start something new specifically because someone asked for it—and still it doesn’t get off the ground. You’re doing everything you can think of and everything your schedule and your budget allow to promote your events to potential audiences. How can you draw people to your programs?
I’m writing from outside the library world to talk about something powerful that can happen inside the library. I work with the Project on Civic Reflection, a national organization that helps get reflective discussion going in order to build community and deepen people’s understanding of their fellow community members and themselves. Over the past several years, what my colleagues and I generally work for outside the library has started to happen in very promising ways inside the library.
Finding authors, booking them for your library program, and getting them for a price that your library can afford can sometimes be a challenge. How do you start? Who do you contact? What can you expect? What do they expect?
If you already have contacts with a publisher, then pick up the phone and call. If they aren’t the person handling author requests, then ask them to give you the appropriate person to contact. Start with an introductory e-mail asking for a time to call them to talk about securing an author.
Ah, author events at the library. Is there anything more fun? Author events can also be perplexing, frustrating, and sometimes hair-raising, but mostly when I think of author events I’m primed for a good time—both for myself and my patrons. If you’re ready to give author events a whirl, here are a few things to think about.
Why do author events? It’s a great question, and one to which you’ll want to give some serious thought before you begin an author program. What do you hope to achieve by hosting an author at your library? Maybe you want to:
This month, EDSITEment remembers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., explores President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, offers lessons for teaching civics through stories, celebrates the Chinese New Year, looks back at 1968, and takes a trip through the looking glass.
Martin Luther King Jr.
This month, EDSITEment looks at December celebrations, Emanuel Leutze’s depiction of George Washington’s December crossing of the Delaware, a collection of Civil War resources, and civil unrest in Newark, New Jersey, in the 1960s.
Gift of Holiday Traditions: Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas