Experience: France was the first in what we hope will become a series of after-hours, adults-only cultural nights. We had French food and wine available for participants to sample. We offered a fun photo booth where participants could get their photo taken, then have a souvenir to take home. We also showed the French film "Amélie." It was a fun, relaxing event that brought a different crowd into the library.
Our main goal for this program was to attract a different crowd to the library — mainly the 20-40 age group. We loved the idea of offering an alternative to foreign travel for our patrons who, like us, couldn't afford trips. Based on this, we decided to name the series "Can't Afford to Travel?" To prepare, a fellow librarian and I began planning the event about four months prior. This gave us plenty of time to reach out to local French interest clubs and wineries for help.
We promoted the event in-house and through social media outlets. However, I do feel we could have done more, since the 20-40 age range is a hard group to hit. Due to this, we're continually looking for new ways to market our programs toward that group.
The main cost for us was decorations. We also paid the winery to help offset their staff time. All the food was donated, however, so had wine not been served, costs would have been lower.
We really wanted this event to feel special and make participants feel as if they had traveled to a different country, so we decorated quite a bit. We spent two or three hours on set-up and decorating. Tables were set with tablecloths that staff lent us, as well as borrowed cake trays. Signs were also printed, announcing the different areas of the evening, in French.
We had around 20 people attend — less than our goal. However, every person responded on our survey that they loved the event.
This was a fun program that I think could easily be adapted to any library. You wouldn't have to serve alcohol or even food. Giving the participants an opportunity to learn about a different culture can be done without those things (although food is always a great part of culture).
About This Library
Greenwood Public Library (GPL) serves an Indianapolis suburb with a population of about 35,000. The community is primarily working-class families who look to the library for fun and informational programming. In 2014, GPL hosted 1,567 programs with 48,709 attendees.