For the past five years, the Russell Library children's department has offered an annual Fairy and Gnome House Workshop as part of its summer events. The event was created by one of our children's librarians, Laura Larsen, and is held in July each year. It has grown in attendance and popularity since its inception.
Last July, while photographing the workshop, I overheard several parents say, "I wish there was a fairy house workshop for adults ....” I took the hint and had just enough time to update our children’s program plan to create one just for adults, held in late August. Luckily, the children's department already had a large collection of materials that they let me borrow for the adult event.
Since we'd already planned four successful Fairy and Gnome House Workshops for children, we just needed to make minor adjustments to make a successful adult program. I created an instruction sheet for creating a fairy or gnome house, and we borrowed materials such as glue, slate and other building supplies from the library's childrens department. (View an instruction sheet, which includes building tips and a list of potential materials, under Attachments at right.)
For all of our programs, we typically send out a PR packet a month ahead, which goes to area newspapers, calendar listings, blogs and radio stations. We also tweet, post to Facebook, and produce in-house posters and a paper calendar, as well as an e-mail newsletter.
In this case, I believe most of the people that came saw it in the newspaper listing.
Glue was the most expensive item — I purchased bridal adhesive to have some quick-drying, strong adhesive for the variety of materials present, but it was a waste of money! Most adults wanted to use the hot glue we also had on hand.
Other materials were donated for free or collected by the program participants and library staff. I purchased wire and brought in pliers, but these went unused. Scissors were the most used tools.
The day of the program, we arranged tables in the library to serve as work tables and laid out all of the building materials and other supplies.
I also laid out the instruction sheets, but they weren't used; participants preferred to just set to work building their version of a fairy or gnome house. (View images of houses under Photo Slideshow at right.)
Two staff members managed the workshop.
We had 40 to 45 people attend, which was excellent for an adult program in late summer. Since it was in the evening, we had whole families come. Two women came who were doing a "girls night out,” and we had a fantastic array of ages and abilities in attendance — elderly women, teens, babies in strollers (accompanied by an adult, of course!). The turnout was so excellent and unexpected that we needed to bring in additional materials from the children’s department storage.
We received great feedback and will certainly do this program again. We most certainly achieved our goals, one of which is to connect with audiences that do not often come to library programs.
Begin by offering this to children and their parents. That will help you discover if adults are also interested.
About This Library
Founded in 1875-76 by Frances Russell in memory of her husband Samuel Russell, this library is an association library acting as Middletown's public library. It receives the bulk of its operational funding from the city of Middletown. Middletown is a diverse community of about 50,000, which includes college students, the elderly and young families. Our budgets have been cut recently because of a statewide shortfall.