Physical libraries are somewhat struggling with remaining relevant for their communities as well as attracting more visitors. Especially since people now have access to information from everywhere and anywhere.
Over the past few months, we have discovered some of the many creative ways libraries can become more attractive to their users, such as community partnerships, a single library system, focusing on sensitive communities, technology and much more. You can explore all of these topics here.
The aspect that we emphasize the most is the importance of a community focus when implementing new programs and events at the library. For this, here are two successful ways library events are used for reaching out to patrons:
1. Create library events for the loyal users
‘The Shining a Light’ report interestingly claims that the library user, in most cases, is a woman in her 20s or 30s, with children in the household and not working full-time. Although this is very specific, it can be agreed that, at the very least, a library user is a ‘prolific’ reader and an enthusiast to learn.The #library user is a ‘prolific’ #reader and an enthusiast to learn. Click To Tweet
Thus, an event related to books is always a good idea when wanting to impress your most passionate users with the most recent news and personalities from the book world. Just like at any other event, book enthusiasts like to see and be around famous people that are influential in their domain.
So why not invite famous writers, creators, artists, etc. to your library events?
A great example of this is the large scale event, Time to Read, a unique partnership of 22 Library Authorities in North West England, which works together to promote reading. Each year they choose a topic to focus on and help support various authors to tour several libraries in the North West of England. As Clancy Mason mentions in our discussion, the event is successful because they “have a wonderful cultural offer here with passionate librarians and readers who are incredibly receptive to author visits.”
Another example is the dlr Public Libraries in Ireland. Every year, they organize Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival which consists of 69 events and approximately 6,500 visitors attended in 2017. Aside from the major names for this festival, they have also been running a dlr Library Voices series for the last 10 years. This year they have already welcomed Daniel Levitin, Mohsin Hamid, George Saunders, Ann Patchett, Tim Winton and Nicole Krauss and they have Claire Messud, Jennifer Egan, Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh amongst others coming up in their autumn/winter series.
Also, they had Writer in Residence for 2016-2017, Sarah Webb, who brought Lauren Child to the library in April. She then became the current UK Children’s Laureate so they hosted a lively Laureate event in June with 3 Irish Laureates and their Australian counterpart, Leigh Hobbs.
2. Create library events for the future users
Donna Fletchers, the non-users researcher, mentions in a previous interview with us that “It’s so worthwhile to find residents who’ve never learned what public libraries provide or that they’re free”. Moreover, in order to get residents to the library, it should be able to fulfill a need that they may have. By creating specific events that target different community needs, the library can become a place for discovery and fulfillment for everyone.If you want people at the #library, you should be able to fulfill a need that they may have. Click To Tweet
This is because, as Wayne Seltzer from Boulder Public Library mentions in an article for American Libraries Magazine, “a person comes into the library and discovers something that they didn’t know about themselves. They have access to resources they didn’t know existed.”
Once again, dlr Public Libraries in Ireland are an example of libraries thinking about the citizens that have never visited the library. They target community members that might not choose to visit the library but who may have got curious when seeing an event addressed to them. Among these services, they also offer:
- Autism friendly drama workshops and other initiatives for adults with autism. During the “Mountains to Sea” Annual Book Festival organized by them, children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and their families can participate in multi-sensory workshops
- Baby Book Clubs held monthly – they also give every baby born in the area, a free book and an invitation to join the library in their first year. This way, they try to get families aware of their services as early as possible.
- English language classes that are aimed at migrants working and living in Ireland.
- Family Days – they organize events to suit children of all ages, such as intergenerational activities, lego themed activities, book-related activities with storytellers, yoga storytelling, puppet shows, robotics workshops etc.
- Graphic Novel Project with young children from the traveling community in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. Children taking part of that project even produced a graphic novel entitled Prince which is now on sale at the library.
- HEAL: Health Education and Libraries. An initiative in partnership with the other 3 Dublin Authorities, St Vincent’s Healthcare Group and researchers from the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems. Aims to promote health education and literacy by guiding the general public to reliable online health information which is approved by the health sector, is free to use and easily accessible.
- Summer Stars Reading Programme – they offer incentives to encourage children to stay reading during the summer months.
By participating in these library events, people get interested in exploring the other library services such as; borrowing materials, studying, or having access to the online resources which then results in them choosing to become a library user.
What successful events have you implemented in the library? Let us know in the comments.
Stay tuned for our blog post next week where we talk to Marian Thérèse Keyes from DLR Public Library in Ireland who will share more insights on how to creatively connect and inspire communities.