A childhood dream of mine was to be in the library after everyone left and being surrounded by all of the books! To be at the library after hours seemed like such a wonderful adventure. Well at my library, several children received that opportunity when our library partnered with a local elementary school for an afterhours Family Fun Night. I am very fortunate that my library system, Worthington Libraries does value the partnerships we have with our school district. On a Friday evening in March, after we had closed our doors, the library came alive for 150 students, their parents and friends.
At my library, Worthington Libraries, fun is one of our core values and we strive on planning everything we do to meet our mission statement, Worthington Libraries connect people to a world of ideas and each other. This Family Fun Night allowed students, parents and teachers a real chance to come together to talk, laugh and connect while using the library.
At first the idea of organizing and coordinating the event was a bit overwhelming. Many of my amazing colleagues pitched in to help with ideas and advice to help me. Now because our library is slightly smaller branch, I knew that we had to use the whole library to really help with crowd control and allow people space to spread out. We had several stations with a variety of activities along with:
- face painting
- Just Dance with Wii-U (using our smartboard in the meeting room)
- Board games
- A photo booth and crazy props
I knew we wanted a variety of activities to make sure everyone found something that they would enjoy. A balance between passive and active stations was important. I was able to find on Pinterest, my go to for crafts of any sort, two different crafts for the kids to participate in; a 3-D clover design and superhero masks! We also borrowed Legos from another branch and set up a station in our children’s area. The school PTA supplied refreshments of pizza and water and the kids had a blast!
Overall, the evening was huge success as families got to hang out and have a great time at the library. While many of the kids were playing, parents got to work with staff to clear up any account concerns and/or get new library cards. Our volunteer and outreach coordinator reached out to us with community members who wanted to help out. Several of our volunteers took up face painting and that proved to be one of our most popular stations! Using community volunteers was a great way for us to build and cultivate strong relationships with the community.
I truly believe that a library is only as successful as the services we offer the community. I believe as librarians it is key to provide the best possible service we can. Building and cultivating relationship with local schools helps us connect more to the communities we serve. Events like the Family Fun Night will stay with kids for many years to come and hopefully inspires many families who haven’t visited the library before, to keep coming back to us.
(All photos courtesy of guest blogger)
Tara Shiman is a youth services librarian at Worthington Park Library with Worthington Libraries (Ohio). When I am not program planning or reading, I can be found trolling Pinterest and brewing more coffee!
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