Though they’re not nearly as much fun as sharing books, songs, and literacy activities with kids, presentations to adult audiences are often a fact of life for librarians and teachers. Whether you are going to bat for library funding with your board or town council, presenting at a professional conference, or sharing curriculum information with parents, Scott Schwertly’s article, “The Best Way to Outline Your Presentation” over at the Slideshare blog will help you structure your presentation to entice and inform your audience.
In these difficult economic times, libraries are finding it necessary to stretch their budgets, while trying to offer more services to the community. Often the library becomes the new “community center” in neighborhoods when families find their disposable income limited. This is a perfect opportunity to bring new people into the library and introduce them to all the fabulous services the library has to offer. So how does the library continue to provide new programs for the community, while managing its own budget? Partnering with the community.
Businesses and other community organizations are also concerned about their budgets, so partnering with the library benefits everyone. Here are some simple techniques to make it happen:
1) Bring in the schools:
Most libraries book talk at their local schools. In return, ask the school’s media specialists, art teachers, etc., what programs they could offer at your library. Teachers often need a community outreach project for their yearly review and this is an easy way for them to fill that requirement. Some ideas for perfect partnership programs include: book discussion clubs, an art class, a reading celebration night, where media specialists and librarians work together to offer activities around a theme (Caldecott awards, summer kick-off, local or state book awards, etc.).
2) Partner with local scout groups:
These groups earn many badges and awards, and often use the library as a resource. In return, ask if they would like to offer a program for the community. A princess tea? A storytime? A craft program? A matchbox truck convoy? A clean-up day?
3) Ask for resources:
Suppose you have a great idea for a program, but do not have money for the supplies or refreshments. Ask local stores or major distributors for donations of specific materials – it’s often much easier to get a donation of fifty rolls of duct tape for your duct tape wallet program, say, than a cash donation. In return, offer a thank-you in your publicity brochure and at the program.
4) Go outdoors with nature centers or parks:
Offer storytelling or storytime services to the park, and ask if they’d be willing to do a program for you. Many parks have rescued animals, or offer craft programs, which make a welcome addition to a library lineup. Again, offer a thank-you in your publicity brochure and allow them to publicize their own events while they are offering a program.
5) Bring in local businesses for programs:
Local businesses of all types have services they provide; it never hurts to ask if they can offer a program. The local waste management company can present a recycling program, a beauty shop can discuss make-up tips for prom season, fitness clubs can offer a sample class for tots, youth or adults, local martial arts groups often have demo teams, and more. The key is to think outside the box. The library offers visibility and free publicity for these businesses.
6) Grow your local garden of presenters:
Master gardeners, local cooperative extension sites, and garden stores are amazing resources for classes. Program topics can range from local pests and growing vegetables to beautifying your landscape. If your library has space, you can ask them to start a demonstration garden where the entire community can become involved and come together.
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.