Over three weeks, we offered a series of three programs about fitness during the winter.
For our first program, we had Doug Dunlap, a local author who writes hiking guides, visit the library. He talked about winter preparedness for hiking.
The following week, Jim Toner, director of the the University of Maine Farmington Fitness Center, discussed the Mainely Outdoors Program, which offers low-cost equipment rental and group activities like hikes.
For the final program, we led a group snowshoeing along some local snow mobile trails, followed by a potluck of soup and warm drinks back at the library.
I planned these programs a month before they were held. I began by contacting the author to arrange an evening visit. I then visited the local fitness center to get lists of the equipment they have available for rental and to schedule a day for the director to speak at the library.
The actual snowshoe outing required the most involved planning. This included posting signs on the trail and arranging to have potluck soup and warm drinks at the library after the walk.
We advertised on our Facebook page , in local newspapers, and with fliers shared at other local rural libraries and on our "talking board."
There was an extra hour of pay for the librarian, as the hike occurred on a day she does not work.
On the day of the hike, we had two volunteers, in additon to the librarian, to ensure everything ran smoothly. Participants brought their own snowshoes, though we did help arrange if someone needed to borrow a pair. It was a lovely walk on a beautiful snowy day.
For the fitness director's talk, I arranged chairs and offered some technical help.
We are a small, rural library, and each event was attended by at at least five or six people. I was a new librarian, trying to increase visibility of the library as a keystone of the community, and my goal was to increase attendance to our library.
After holding these programs for the first time last winter, several patrons have asked for the snowshoeing to become an annual event. Other results were donations of our visiting author's books to the library, and drawing some new faces to the library, who later became patrons.
These programs contributed to an overall increase in usage of our library.
Keep the snowshoe short — a mile or two — so young kids and seniors can enjoy it, too.
Offer warm drinks afterwards; this provides a chance to chat that really bonded our group.
Our town is small enough that we had extra snowshoes for folks to use, so we let patrons know that they could call the library if they needed some to use for the hike.
About This Library
New Vineyard Public Library is a rural library in New Vineyard, Maine. Our population is 757. We are open 16 hours a week over four days. We have a library director — our only staff person — and a voluntary board of trustees. We accept patrons from surrounding communities.