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To Charge or Not to Charge? A Dilemma for Programming Librarians

A person counting dollar bills

It's a sticky subject in the library world: is it appropriate for public libraries to charge a fee for patrons to participate in programs?

I'm not trying to take sides, but rather illuminate some of the reasons why libraries might charge fees and to start what I hope will be a productive dialogue about this emerging dilemma.

Event Planning ≠ Program Planning: Teaching Event-Planning Skills

Illustration of a group of people stand near big calendar, watches, document.

When you set out to plan a new program for your library, you likely think about content first. What information will you cover? What will the program be named? What are your goals, and how will you achieve them based on your budget and resources? This is the process we have come to know as “program planning.”

Books & Looks

Illustration of person drinking out a mug with icons of makeup and books surrounding. Text reads: Books & Looks

Through this online video program, librarians fuse together the power of makeup, art and a love for books. The program requires a makeup artist (this can be a librarian with makeup skills) and a model. The two casually chat about a selected book while getting glam.

It's like a makeup tutorial and book podcast in one!

When Programming Goes Digital: The Changing Skillset of Programming Librarians

Illustration of person shelving large books inside of a tablet.

If you’re like most programming librarians, there’s a good chance that you’ve spent a lot more time online in the past year. As COVID sent library workers scrambling to do their jobs in a little- or no-contact environment, many of us have faced a steep learning curve.

So, how is that going for you? Could you have benefited from some training ahead of time?

Elf on the Bookshelf

You've heard of Elf on the Shelf. I've found that the elf is the best low-cost passive program to engage patrons through pandemic times and advocate for our library. My library elf, Tinsel, promotes programming, library services and reading.

The inspiration came from how teachers utilize their elf for classroom management around the hyperactive holiday season. Libraries can use an elf to promote library events and excite patrons with the silly hijinks that the elves get into.

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