Staff members at Scranton Memorial Library were given the opportunity to plan an hourlong program on any topic using any format they'd be comfortable with. We had round tables, direct presentations, Q&A sessions, group art sessions and a live demonstration of ancient Greek battle tactics.
Topics have included genealogy, retro video games, and arts and crafts.
This not only gave our staff the opportunity to share their own interests but also demonstrated to our community how talented and knowledgeable our staff is. We also had the opportunity to test what types of programs might be successful with different demographics.
Due to the nature of this program, the learning outcomes were different for each session. Most of the advanced prep consisted of recruiting staff members who were willing to be presenters. Each presenter was responsible for planning and acquiring materials for their own session.
We promoted the event with flyers set up throughout the library and word of mouth. We had varying degrees of success but averaged five patrons per session.
The wonderful thing about a program series like this one is that each session brought in drastically different demographics from our community.
Most of these presentations had zero cost associated with them. The presenters were responsible for acquiring funds for their presentations if they were necessary. The end cost was about $100 for all seven sessions.
Set-up was up to the presenter; they were responsible for coordinating with custodial staff for room set-up. The most intense set-up was for our retro video game session, which required various adapters to be compatible with our screens and speakers.
Our ancient warfare session also required a wide-open space and materials to approximate spears and shields (we ended up using poster board, duct tape and pool noodles).
Each session took place on a Saturday. The average attendance was five people per session, with our most heavily attended event bringing in about 12 participants. Feedback for each program was excellent. The only hiccups were when presenters were unable to run their program due to illness or other reasons.
There are two areas that are necessary for the success of this program. First, make sure that your staff understands that they have complete freedom in how they want to run their session. Second, effective marketing is vital due to the wide variety of topics that will be covered. The best method for advertising this program is word of mouth, so make sure your circulation staff is mentioning this program to as many patrons as possible.
About This Library
Located in the heart of downtown Madison, the Scranton Library is a community center for lifelong learning and exploration. Along with our collection of books and audiovisual materials, we provide free computer access and Wi-Fi, early literacy discovery classes for children, programs, volunteer opportunities for teens, cultural performances, learning opportunities for adults, rotating art exhibits, and free meeting space for community organizations.