8 Tips for Coming Up With Killer Library Programs

Coming up with new and interesting library programs can sometimes be difficult. Here are some tips for drumming up fresh, relevant ideas that will really excite your community:

1. Start with what you know. Check with your staff and figure out what hobbies, skills, and interests they have that might be of interest to your community. From crafts to graphic design and programming, you may already have resources at your fingertips to create new library programs.

2. Poll the Patrons. This is an incredibly straightforward way to find out what is of most interest to your demographic. It can be a simple question as people check out items or an emailed poll to your contact list.

3. Ask a mentor. Sometimes, the problem is not coming up with an idea for library programs, but rather finding an expert willing to present or teach on the subject. Ask faculty, local businesses, or clubs if they are interested in spending some time educating your patrons. For example, a graphic arts or programming professor could teach the medical community how to create a poster or infographic on self-care, a professor or teacher could hold a study group for a major exam, a local martial arts studio could talk for an hour on basic self-defense and avoiding potentially dangerous situations, or an accountant could talk about what files need to be kept to get the maximum deductions on income tax returns. Don’t be afraid to ask local experts to volunteer.

4. Respond to community needs. Whether you’re providing health information, English as a second language programs, or a program on recovering after a natural disaster, paying attention to your local community’s needs can give you ideas for library programs that are most relevant and pressing to your patrons. Read local newspapers and follow the stories breaking in your area. Contact local government (or student governments if you’re on a campus) to uncover topics that will be of interest in the coming months.

5. Offer a program on one of ALA’s 5 action areasThe action areas are 21st century literacy, diversity, education and continuous learning, equity of access, and intellectual freedom. Check out ALA’s site for more detailed suggestions.

6. Check the calendar. Take a look at the calendar of National Holidays, months, etc., to see what will be in the news. For instance, during American Heart Month, you can host an event demonstrating simple changes to diets that can make hearts healthier.

7. Find out what other libraries are doing. These days that’s as simple as looking at the posted calendar of events on their websites, but don’t forget to ask colleagues. Perhaps you can even swap experts!

8. Support STEM education. Consider starting a computer programming club or hosting a makerspace contest. For example, check out this makerspace project for creating an intruder alarm.

For more ideas on how to get more for your community, please download our Librarian of the Future whitepaper .

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