Jennifer Lawson, Program Services Librarian, San Diego County Library presented Program-Palooza!, a panel at the PLA Conference in Philadelphia that featured 60 different programs to encourage libraries to become community social centers and places to hang out. The programs are all staff-led projects and most of them managed to be little- to no-cost to the library after they reached out to the community for help and sponsorship. Customers are the focus, and programs were broken down into targeted groups: tweens, teens, new parents, immigrants, children, 50+ citizens, health, and fitness.
A few examples:
- New moms can join in on Stroller Shimmy & Sweat, an exercise class that the baby can attend. This free program was created by a library volunteer who had interest in helping new mothers find time to take care of themselves but not worry about who could take care of the baby.
- Many programs featured pets: Stuffed animal show, Dog day Fashion show, reading to dogs. Lawson said that people love sharing and showing off their pets. People also love posting pictures of their pets, and the library’s Facebook has tons of pictures of puppies with library cards.
- Libraries can also reach out to community heroes, such as the local police or fire department. Some suggested programs were Big Truck Day and Story Time. Other programs featured writing thank you notes to the fire department, police force, and oversea soldiers.
- If your library is interested in showing Downton Abbey or any other Masterpiece Theater collection, just buy the PBS educational series version of the product. They are the same price, but this purchase allows for the work to be legally shown to library audiences. A suggested program was a viewing party hosted by the library with themed food and drinks.
- Local restaurants also pitched in and supplied food for free to different programs, sometimes offering a cooking demonstration.
Librarians came out of the large crowd to share their own ideas for programming: Hobbit-themed birthday parties, candy of the decade, ice-cream rewards for reaching math goals, dinner and a movie night.