Children’s librarians offer tons of awesome and successful programs every day. But what about the programs that are not so successful? When is it time to make changes or pull the cord on something?
A “successful” program means something different to every librarian. It might be a program that has a large draw, bringing many families into your library to check out materials and use library resources. It may be a program that results in a few kids or parents gaining valuable skills. The first step to figuring out whether your programs are succeeding is to think about what you want them to do.
And then be honest with yourself. Is this program doing what you want? Is preparing and implementing this program a valuable use of your staff time and programming funds? Are there ways that the program could be changed to maximize impact?
If you’re not getting what you want out of your programs, it’s time to rethink! This is okay. This is not a failure on anyone’s part, but it’s an opportunity to grow and change and serve your population and staff better.
* Is attendance down in storytime? Miss Julie had success with changing up her marketing. Try calling it a “class” instead of “storytime”. Maybe it’s time to try out digital elements in storytime or STEM storytimes. Or take a break from storytimes and try some different types of preschool programs.
* Are your large programs taking up more staff time than they’re really worth? Give unprogramming a try.
* Did a program you were excited about turn out to have low attendance or unanticipated problems? Librarians get free do-overs. Try it again and tweak what didn’t work.
* Is an annual or recurring program getting out of control? Angie explains how she saved her program by throwing out everything she thought she knew and starting over.
* Having trouble attracting the afterschool crowd (or any other population you’re trying to reach)? Start with some outreach. Take the library to them and make valuable connections.
* Is your Summer Reading Program driving you crazy? Find ways to make it easier for staff and patrons. Not everyone is in love with Summer Reading, I promise.
It’s part of our jobs to take stock of what we’re doing and make sure that it’s working. What experiences have you had with revamping programs that were not working?
— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN