Have you included outreach in your summer reading plans? If not, I have got the place for you! Your community’s municipal pool will be packed this summer and your library should view this as a major outreach opportunity!
For the past two summers, I spent two mornings a week at the municipal pool. One day a week would be dedicated to a baby and toddler storytime at the kiddie pool, and the other day consisted of crafts for school-age children attending the town’s summer camp at the pool. These programs were my favorite to do! Not only did I provide a library service for community members, but I also got to meet many children and families that did not come to the library.
Are you interested in doing an outreach program at your municipal pool? Here are some tips:
- Call and Email the Pool Director/Manager: Start by calling your municipal pool’s director/manager. I find that making a call first usually leads to a partnership with an organization. Then follow up by email if needed. Ask about any children’s programs at the pool and how you can be a part of that.
- Promote this Program EVERYWHERE!: Keep in mind that this is an outreach program. Your goal is to meet community members that do not come to the library. Post fliers and other marketing materials at the municipal pool and local businesses, including daycares.
- Bring Lots of Crafts: You may be thinking that school-age children will not want to leave the pool to make crafts at the picnic tables with the boring children’s librarian. However, once you get one child, more will come. I recommend making and/or purchasing at least 30 crafts for each time you visit the pool.
- Be Prepared for the Kiddie Pool: Having a baby and toddler storytime at the kiddie pool can be a lot of fun, but you must be prepared! First, bring flip-flops for yourself. When I did this program, I had my feet in the water while some families would be in the pool and others would be off to the side. Also, be sure your marketing materials include a note about safety, as well as the need for swim diapers for little ones.
- Get to Know the Community Members: Many of the programs I do now are a result of outreach programs and what I learned from them. Some of the people you will meet at the pool do not go to the library for one reason or another. Get to know those reasons and ask these potential patrons what interests them. What trends are they into that you may not know about? Can a program be built around this? Is something lacking in the collection? Use this as a research opportunity!
Not every single child you meet at the pool will become library patrons, but I guarantee they will all remember you. I am a firm believer that library outreach is meant to serve the nooks and crannies of your entire community, not just your existing loyal patrons. Your potential patrons can be found anywhere, from the local elementary schools to your town pool. You just have to find them!
What is a successful outreach program for your library?
Today’s guest blogger is Ariel Barreras. Ariel is the Children’s Librarian at the Ridgefield Park Public Library in Ridgefield Park, NJ. She is passionate about children’s programming and outreach.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.