Our obituary writing workshop was created to guide patrons through the process of writing an obituary for themselves or a loved one, choosing their words carefully and succinctly.
Led by the nearby Gustavus Adolphus College's Writing Center director and two writing tutors, the program helped patrons through what can be a difficult task.
After seeing a post on the Programming Librarian Interest Group Facebook page  about a write-your-own obituary program, I reached out to our local college's writing center director. After introducing myself via email, I told him I was interested in offering a class about writing an obituary. He was intrigued with the idea, and we met to brainstorm ideas.
He proposed to run this as a two-part workshop. The first class would be a learning class, a general session on what is expected from an obituary and how to maintain accuracy, as well as providing participants with a few examples of good obituaries. The students were then to be given homework for the second session. For the second class, the writing director would come back with two student writing tutors to go over the actual writing of the obituaries and offer constructive criticism. Our goal was for participants to leave with a decent obituary.
This program was marketed to older adults and seniors via email, Facebook, fliers and the community brochure.
We like to charge $5 fees for our programs to give patrons a sense of investment in the program, making it more likely that they show up.
There was no cost associated with hosting the program. The writing center director did not charge us a fee, and he also used this as a learning session for his student tutors.
We used our regular lecture classroom, with no special set-up required. The instructor brought packets for each student from his office, and a whiteboard and pens were made available for his use.
Seven people registered to attend the class, which was held on two consecutive Tuesdays from 2 to 3 p.m. A few patrons grumbled about having to do homework.
For a first-time program on a topic that makes some people uneasy, we considered this a highly successful program with seven people attending. I believe we established a rapport with the writing center, and the director said he would be amenable to offering another writing program, such as memoir-writing, in the future.
Programming is all about marketing and getting the word out! This program might have had more in attendance if information had been shared with churches and local assisted-living facilities.
About This Library
Our mission: The Saint Peter Public Library welcomes all people and fosters a safe environment to connect, learn, discover and grow.
Our vision: We envision the Saint Peter Public Library as a place where all people can gather and are welcome. We imagine our library as a place to create opportunities for lifelong learning, which will strengthen our community.
The Saint Peter Public Library serves 33,727 patrons and has issued 8,726 library cards. On average, we have 200 daily visitors walk through our doors during the week and 250 on the weekend. We are a single-branch library in a rural community serving cities, communities and townships.