Adult Engagement Calendars: November/December 2016
It was only a year ago, October 2015, that Demco hosted the webinar Engaging Adults Through Programming, during which we asked attendees how they would describe the current state of their adult library programs. The majority categorized their libraries as trying a few new things, but mostly engaging current users. Those who wanted to to extensively revamp their adult library programs ranked second in our poll. Attendees were seeking ideas and new ways to attract patrons and connect with their communities.
Since then, there has been a significant leap in programming and outreach in the last 12 months. Today it is common to find healthy eating, yoga, meditation and coloring programs, as well as libraries addressing meaty topics through innovative programs and events. Below are 5 examples of ways libraries are pushing the envelope to engage with their communities.
- King County Library System (WA) was one of two presenters of the above-mentioned webinar. They shared their approach to the development of annually themed adult programming. The 2016 theme is Everyone’s Talking About It, which features a series titled Wisdom Cafes that “provide an opportunity to converse and connect with others in discussion of universal topics.”
- The Monroeville Public Library (PA) staff built upon their community’s trust of libraries and created a new feature they call Hot Topics. Librarians select topics and curate resources representing a broad range of perspectives and encourage patrons to form their own independent viewpoints so they can knowledgeably participate in dialogue and political action. In addition, they sometimes host speakers and panel discussions related to the theme.
- UMass Lowell’s O’Leary Library teamed up with the Pollard Memorial Library to host four Wikipedia edit-a-thons. They recruited local, experienced editors to pair with novices to comb through sources and update local Wiki pages. This joint venture exposed the vast array of resources available at the libraries and taught participants how to evaluate sources.
- Desmond-Fish Library in Garrison, NY, is taking the lead for a series of 5 Community Conversations, inviting community members to convene and share aspirations, ideas and concerns for their community as a whole. Library staff and board members partnered with Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Coordinator for Library Sustainability at the Mid-Hudson Library System for training and support. An article on highlandscurrent.com about this program quotes Library Director Jen McCreery: “It’s a natural fit for us to support this. The tools we’ll provide are so people can achieve their goals. For us this will help re-focus on our purpose. We have been very involved with our physical building and our collection, and now we can look beyond that, and it will be good to have the feedback on that larger purpose.”
- In Wisconsin, libraries are becoming partners in building dementia-friendly communities. The Southwest Branch of Brown County Library System and Oregon Public Library are just two of many that have received training from the Aging and Disability Resources Center (ADRC) on the signs to be aware of and how to better serve people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Fort Atkinson, Elkhorn and New Berlin are a sampling of libraries that host memory cafes, providing individuals and their caregivers a safe environment to meet others and openly talk about issues.
As you’re looking ahead to 2017, please share a quick snippet in the comments about your library’s plan for adult programming and community engagement. Still seeking an idea, or ten, to round out your plans for 2016? The November and December calendars may be the spark you’re seeking.