Library Eats is open to all adults over 18 and combines the love of cooking with our library’s collection of cookbooks. Each month we showcase a different type of cooking, e.g. vegetarian, soups and stews, or gluten-free. This program is offered the second Thursday of every month and starts at 6:30 p.m. During various times throughout the year we offer specialty Library Eats programming run by volunteer guest cooks, in addition to our regular monthly sessions.
The library’s goal is to promote lifelong learning within our community and to engage learners in thinking outside the box when it comes to library usage. With this program we combine the love of food with our library’s collection of food-related resources.
When we started the program, I began planning three months in advance for the first quarter of 2014. Our director, our circulation manager and I were involved in the early planning. Now another circulation librarian and I plan this program. The planning process involves setting program dates, creating themes and obtaining the resources, space, equipment/supplies and volunteers for any specialty classes. We have encountered challenges with weather, volunteers, program attendance and equipment failure.
We use monthly program fliers, social media, local media outlets and word of mouth. Program attendance averages between 10 and 20 participants each month. We promote this program monthly and weekly.
Our budget is between $500 and 1,000 yearly. Cost is based on what we will be cooking, so it varies from month to month.
An hour before the event we arrange tables and chairs, set up the burner and prep food items. Currently this program utilizes two staff members.
A typical Library Eats program is modeled as follows:
- Introduce the day’s program theme
- Talk about the ingredients, budget and nutrition
- Prepare and cook menu item
- Talk about food prep techniques and library resources
- Offer a taste testing of the completed recipe to program participants
- Recap the day’s program and promote next month’s menu item
- Clean up
Between 10 to 20 people attend each program, and the feedback has been positive. For the most part, we are achieving the library’s objectives of promoting lifelong learning and engaging users at the library.
About This Library
Our library serves all of Dakota County, Neb. We offer a variety of programming for adults and children of all ages. One of the biggest challenges of offering programming to our community is a language barrier; about 65 percent of our population is Hispanic/non-English speaking.