Friday, 28 December 2012

Day 4 Core programs #blog12daysxmas

This morning some colleagues and I had a discussion via Twitter on core services in public libraries. The conversation centred around thoughts of what constituted a library's core business and who decided what "core" was-the community, the library service or perhaps the library staff.

Resourcing came up, namely staffing and funding, but I would imagine space could well be another issue faced by many libraries.  I'm fortunate in that I have a large branch and a large team but it is so often assumed that this makes it much simpler to run many programs and events. This isn't the case. A large branch also means that more staff are needed on the library floor at one time and,believe it or not, it can take quite a bit longer to do things because of the volume of work and the size of the floor space. Having said that, I can well imagine the frustrations of a smaller, under resourced library and what the staff must go through to get anything done.

I do believe though, very strongly, that where there's a will there's a way and there is always some way that programs can be developed and implemented. To me, a potentially fast way to facilitate some sort of community program is to put out an EOI in the library for some externally created groups to be actually run in the library. This can be a Book Group, a computer class or a patchwork group, utilising strong interests held by members of the community. Having someone keen to do this usually means they'll be a driver behind attendees participating and continued attendance, ensuring longevity for the group/s.

Volunteers in the library can be another way to implement something, even if it is a one off event, such as, for example, a card making demonstration, strategically held before Mother's Day or Christmas, or running a weekly homework help group.

Having the library available for community groups to hold events is another really good way to bring people to the library. Most of the time these groups will have their own promotional avenues which really helps with building an audience.

Creating a variety of programs is not without its challenges but I really do believe that little things can be done and constantly built upon to create meaningful and interesting programs for the community. There is also potential for these things to be used as leverage for future funding endeavours, for example using statistics gained to add weight to grant applications or to show merit for continued programming to funding bodies.

I would be interested to hear from others on interesting ways they found to run programs in their libraries.

1 comment:

SharonU said...

Thanks, Tan for some good ideas.

Space is a big issue - I forgot to mention that in my tweets and my blog post. One of my branches has 2 meeting rooms which are used for study, community run French class and homework tutoring (run by a private company and I don't charge for use of the room as it gets the kids into the library).

We did have another language class using one of the rooms but they have now moved to the Youth Hub. The library is now competing with the Youth Hub to be used as a "space" because the Hub cost a lot and they have to prove it's use.

The Youth Hub will be running a homework club (sort of thing) and I plan to be involved in some capacity when that gets up and running - get the library to the kids is my idea.

My other two branches do not have meeting rooms nor the space available to run community events - we are flat out running author visits from them due to space confines.

However, both successfully run book clubs - one is run by our volunteer/casual on a day the library is closed (she is not paid for this) and the other is a self facilitating one.

We haven't started one in our main branch, mainly because the people interested want someone to facilitate - bit hard with lack of staff and we are waiting on our book club sets to become available before we really try to kick it off the ground.

So there are some programs that are running or in the pipeline.

But it's the ones I would love to run - like regular computer classes - that frustrate me due to the lack of resources we have.

Anyway, it was a great twitter discussion that got the ideas flowing - even if it did make me think of work on the holidays!