Librarian Janie Hermann, a 2007 LJ Mover & Shaker, noted early in 2016 that a lot of books were coming out about hygge, the Danish term for taking pleasure in the simple things in life, and suggested that it might be a nice underlying theme for some of our winter programming at New Jersey’s Princeton Public Library. As part of that, we thought, “Why don’t we do something around cozy mysteries?” But when we approached our Mistress of Murder, librarian Gayle Stratton, we came up with another idea: create our very own murder mystery based around a fictional murder at the library.
Cassandra Black met her husband online, inspiring her and colleague Mary Frances Frayne to put on an online dating workshop in February 2016 at the Belmont Library, CA. At the time, Black served as teen services librarian and Frayne as community services librarian. The program was geared mostly to seniors, who dominate Belmont’s classes.
The Johnson County Library, KS, hosted its first Debate Watch Party in 2012, but for the 2016 election the Library’s Civic Engagement Committee wanted to make sure the event was really memorable. On September 26, 2016, we watched the debate with 135 excited and engaged library patrons over pizza and popcorn. In order to make the event as robust as possible we created a more social feel: we had tables with table cloths set up cafe style to encourage interactions between patrons who might have differing views and interests. We provided live fact checking, debate bingo, and partnered with the League of Women Voters to help with on-site voter registration and information about the voting process.
What do you do with an old storage room? With the help of a grant, around 40 kids, four months, and a lot of hard work and creativity, the Morton-James Public Library was able to transform a nondescript storage area into a real-life immersive puzzle game—Nebraska City’s first escape room (and the first escape room in the world built by kids, as far as we can tell).
“Don’t you love the Oxford dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really, really long poem about everything,” said David Bowie in 1999. In “Hollywood Is a Verb: Los Angeles Tackles the Oxford English Dictionary [OED],” more than 60 programs engaged Angelenos through conversation and events to illuminate how dictionaries enrich our lives today. The title of the program, jointly presented by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL), was inspired by L.A. artist Ed Ruscha and his paintings of the same name.
Raziel Reid’s win of A 2014 Governor General award for When Everything Feels Like the Movies (Arsenal Pulp) sparked many conversations through our teen library groups and brought to light their questions and personal concerns. With topics of gender and identity taking center stage in the media, we believed it was a good time to create a program that addressed societal ideals, body image, and gender identity—and celebrated diversity. A bag of old Barbie dolls languishing under Lisa Mudrakoff’s desk proved to be the perfect foundation for a program in social literacy that would also be creative and fun, meeting teens’ requests for exciting tactile events that allowed them to get their hands dirty while also addressing the topics brought to mind by Reid’s novel.
Research implies that lifelong learning and social engagement foster healthy aging. With the over-50 set now the fastest growing age group, baby boomers are living longer, and their demand for engaging social interaction, enrichment, and learning continues apace. Iowa’s Marion Public Library recently focused on a popular Sunday night TV program, borrowed ideas from an existing club, and was soon up and running with a fun, socially engaging program targeted to this growing population.
The library is a liberating place for adults with developmental disabilities in the Springfield–Greene County Library District, MO. Since the Library Station branch stepped up its monthly programming for that underserved population through “Explore,” 40 adults have become faithful attendees, and new agency partners bring clients from as far as 70 miles away.
It’s not unusual for public libraries to host fairs for patrons to find the things they want to know—most often revolving around authors and books. It is also not a rarity for libraries to conduct outreach to homeless and at-risk patrons. Yet Salt Lake City Public Library (SLCPL) has taken the uncommon step of combining the two. On November 18, 2014, an estimated 400 homeless or at-risk individuals attended the first Project Uplift, a social services information and resource fair coordinated by SLCPL, Salt Lake City government, and Volunteers of America—Utah (VOA).