Programming Puzzler: How do you do more with less in your programs?

We presented this puzzler to our newsletter readers:

It’s happening all over the country – library budgets are being cut, and children’s programming is often one of the first areas to go. How are you making best use of your time to offer more to your patrons with less time, money, or staff?

“Utilize volunteer resources by identifying skills of parents and other caregivers. They might have connections and ideas. Don’t just find out their skills, but also where they work. You could put a request like this in a newsletter.” -Hope J.

“We request grant funding and donations from local businesses to support our programs. We got a big donation of duct tape from a manufacturer to support a teen program, just because we asked for it.” -Cyndi L.

Kathy and Christine say:

  • Make sure your administrators and elected officials know how important programming is. Use the links and talking points provided in this post to help you build a solid case for maintaining programming. Ask program attendees to help too – why not develop a simple survey or form to collect information about what attendees value about programming?
  • Keep an open mind. Are there other ways you can deliver programs? Consider dropping times that are less well-attended or combining age groups to reach a larger audience.
  • Explore programs that serve multiple audiences. For example, you could recruit members of your Teen Advisory Board to present storytimes or informal readalouds for younger children.
  • Know your goals. Revisit your library’s mission statement and outreach goals and make sure that any programs you offer fit into those goals. This will give you a clearer vision for your programs, help you decide which programs to drop, and help you build a stronger case for continued funding.
  • Partner with local community organizations and business to offer programs at your library. Often teachers need to complete an outreach activity for their evaluations and are happy to offer a program. Local businesses (florists, hairdressers, etc.) and government agencies (environmental, recycling, etc.) also offer programs to libraries as a way to promote their business or services. Also, some local businesses have programs where their employees must complete an outreach activity in the community and can help with large programs the library offers such as summer reading events. It’s a wonderful way to get extra volunteers when you have limited staff for big draw events.
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