TRY Fayetteville Public Library (FPL) is a monthly series that encourages our community to experiment and explore new activities and interests in a hands-on atmosphere — a risk-free way to find new hobbies. TRY FPL allows a person to explore topics that sound interesting, get a feel for what is involved, and then decide if they want to pursue it in more depth. Our January 2015 kickoff offered Cajun dance lessons for the community. Turnout was wonderful, and the audience gave great feedback on other topics they would like to see featured, including beekeeping, raising backyard chickens, fishing and lures, roasting your own coffee and soapmaking.
Planning started about eight months prior to the series, led by the adult services staff. Occasional challenges have arisen, such as how to set up a room for live chickens and venting issues with certain crafting topics. However, creative and collaborative problem-solving between library staff helped overcome these hurdles.
We are marketing this series in four-month blocks, keeping to the second Wednesday of each month. We want to build patron expectations that on that second Wednesday of the month, something cool and unusual is happening at the library. In-house marketing through newsletters and digital signage and a strong website presence is key to successful promotion. We also issue press releases and have been contacted by local media.
We offer instructors $100 dollar honorariums and have a small supplies budget for each class. All of our speakers are local instructors or experts that we find locally. Our staff is well connected with many in the community, so finding instructors in many different hobbies or professions is not too difficult here. We also watch for local newspaper articles and television news features for potential new speakers at the library.
Varies depending on what the topic is for each session. For instance, our live chicken demonstration presented some unique challenges for hosting the session inside the library. To solve the issue, our facilities team put down tarps on the stage where the chickens were housed during the program. This was a great solution, as no problems or mess was encountered from the presentation.
We have enjoyed an enthusiastic response from our community on this type of active programming. Everyone who attends really enjoys the hands-on approach to these events, as well as the oppoturnity to ask questions and learn by doing.
Our lead-off program in Januaray 2015 taught Cajun Dancing to 64 people. The enthusiasm from the public was wonderful! There was great music and participation during the event, as well as interest in future TRY FPL sessions.
In February 2015, a prominent local coffee house discussed hot to roast your own coffee beans at home. This discussion was well received, with 51 attendees.
For our March 2015 session, we hosted a program on raising backyard chickens in an urban setting. Our instructor discussed chicken care and how to build your own coop. At the end of the program, we gave away the demonstration chicken coop to one of the attendees. We had a total of 74 people attend this session.
We hope to have another big crowd to explore the elements of beekeeping for our April 2015 session. We are also in the process of planning monthly classes on soap making, calligraphy, folk dancing, and fly fishing!
Attendees from these programs have shared many great hobbies/interests that they would like to see featured at future sessions.
Having a hands-on element is key to these programs. So my advice is to plan programs where active participating can be involved. People want to participate in the program, not just attend it.
About This Library
The Fayetteville Public Library serves the 73,580 residents of Fayetteville, Arkansas' third-largest city and home to the University of Arkansas. The library also acts as a regional library, serving a rapidly growing population of over 200,000.