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September 2, 2015
Children / Family
Older Adults / Seniors
Young Adult
Advance Planning

Explore was developed based on the needs of an underserved, developmentally challenged adult audience. The program seeks to offer a place where participants from across the library district feel comfortable being who they are while continuing to be lifelong learners. 

To get started, library staff observed groups from a local adult day center, ARC of the Ozarks, coming to the Library Station. The patrons visited us regularly to sit and look at books. Staff knew they could engage these patrons in a more meaningful way. 

Initial planning took a couple of months to gain approval from library administrative staff, meet with the ARC leaders to discuss program expectations and goals, and create the initial program content.

In those initial meetings, ARC leaders urged library staff to address the group with age-appropriate materials and resources — not children’s items — and to incorporate “craftivities.” (See the "Program Execution" section below for examples of these activities.) The ARC leadership has continued to provide feedback to the library staff, which has helped grow program attendance and allows the program to be more lively and relevant to its participants.


Since Explore was developed in partnership with ARC of the Ozarks, a local adult day center, their leaders were involved from the concept stage and have a vested interest in this program. Leaders bring their groups in monthly, translating to high average program attendance of 40 participants, and also serve as great word-of-mouth promoters. 

The library district also publishes a quarterly publication, "Bookends," promoting library programs where Explore is listed. The community relations department sends press releases about the programs to area media, posts promos on the library district's website, and on television "billboards" in all 10 of the library’s branches. 

Explore is a library-branded program and features its own program logo. The program name was created by library staff, and the logo and design were created by the library’s community relations department. 

Budget Details

The costs associated with this program are staff time, operational costs involved in running the program, promotions, and supplies for “craftivities.” 

At the library branch where Explore is conducted, about 25 percent of the branch’s adult programming budget is earmarked for this program annually. This fiscal year, that equals approximately $125. The program’s staff coordinator is responsible for spending those funds on “craftivities” throughout the year. Explore strives to offer one substantial “craftivity” per quarter; however, other no-cost “craftivities” are incorporated throughout the other months.

To be fiscally responsible, substantial “craftivities” are chosen based on supplies that can be purchased in bulk, in discount, and/or that can be used differently over two or more “craftivities.”

Day-of-event Activity

One library staff member coordinates and conducts Explore on a monthly basis. Group leaders, who bring the participants to the library, stay in the room during the program and serve as a support system for any participant needs. 

Day-of-event activity is minimal. We set up the room and any needed technology approximately 15 to 20 minutes before the program begins. Chairs are usually set up auditorium-style. “Craftivity” tables are congregated in one area or line the perimeter of the room. Please be advised that some participants may be in wheelchairs, and space must be available for them to participate appropriately.

Program Execution

Explore examines a different themed topic each month using multimedia tools, library materials and resources. Any “craftivities” revolve around the themed topic. The program is offered once in the morning and once in the afternoon. This structure allows the group leaders flexibility to attend the program based on available transportation for the group and other group needs.

Examples of programs include the Spring Music Listening Party, where participants heard everything from Pharrell Williams to Debussy and Cat Power, and played along with instruments. During the Meet the 3D Printer program, participants were exposed to technology they had not seen at work, and watched a video on how prosthetics were made using this technology. A favorite program was when participants created their own picture-book story using images from picture books. They wrote storylines for each page, typeset the pages, and the library coordinator printed the pages so each member could take home a picture book they helped write.

Due to the strong partnership with ARC of the Ozarks and interest from other centers in the area, Explore sees an average of 40 participants monthly. 


Over-plan your program content with different elements so you can easily move on to something else if you begin to lose program participation. 

Short Title

Explore is an ongoing series aimed at everyone, including developmentally challenged adults. It goes beyond a storytime, using lively multimedia tools — such as video clips from YouTube and library DVDs and audio recordings, as well as books and “craftivities” — in a quest for fun and lifelong learning. 

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Explore, a program for developmentally challenged adults, uses multimedia tools, books and crafts in a quest for fun and lifelong learning.