A fresh year for the adult programming calendar

It’s almost January — the season of new beginnings! I’ve been planning like crazy for the events that will take place next year in the libraries I work in. Some plans are firm and contracts are booked. Other ideas are still in the infancy stage just waiting to blossom. I thought I would share some ideas.


VIVA Florida 500 kicks off! The year of celebrating Florida history can happen with guest scholars, historians, and performers of all kinds.

Archaeology related programming leading up to a March exhibit will raise awareness of the exhibit topic and should appeal to those who find archaeology / history interesting.  

Ballroom dancing can be offered as a fun way to burn off some of those extra holiday pounds people may have put on in December.


Book Festival! I am coordinating the 19th annual literary arts festival for my library in 2013. What does your library do to celebrate reading in your community?

Chautauqua for my library system continues with humanities based programming. Storytellers, musicians, scholars and more!

I hear Feel Good Fridays might be starting up at one of the libraries…. How can libraries help others to live happy, healthy, lives?

Still booking–  African American History Month is the month of February…..


We Were Here: The People of the Belle Glade Culture Exhibit will take place at one of our libraries for the entire month. Traveling exhibits are a lot of work, but a great way to focus programming efforts and garner publicity for your library’s ability to bring a topic to life.

Still booking– Women’s History Month is in March…..


National Libraries Week (April 14-20) is a great time to celebrate our volunteers, Friends, and Foundation members. It’s also a great way of shining light on the value libraries bring to their communities. Last year we did cake in library lobbies…. What will this year hold?

Money Smart Week (April 20 – 27)  How can libraries make the topic of financial literacy fun?

World Book Night is April 23!


Summer Reading 2013 will begin some time this month. Groundbreaking Reads is the adult theme this year. It’s never too early to think about how we can get a whole community excited about reading throughout the summer months!

For additional ideas – according to Programming Librarian, May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage month.


What can we do to celebrate healthy living via library event calendars? What health topics could be covered, and in what ways? What partnerships could help with this goal? What system-wide initiatives could be implemented?


Taste of the Tropics (Master Gardeners) will be happening at my library this year. The annual community tropical fruit tasting will be paired with educational seminars, children’s activities, music, and much more. Ideas for turning the courtyard into a festival atmosphere that will inspire all different kinds of people to learn how to grow and prepare fresh healthy tropical fruit are welcome…  What other libraries might want to get in on this tropical action in some way?


How do Florida residents relate to the theme of Journey Stories? The event calendar should help residents of all backgrounds to make those connections and discover how rich our county’s heritage truly is.


Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 – October 15. How many libraries have a Hispanic population who might welcome a chance to share some aspect of their culture with the community at large?


El Dia De Los Muertos – so many libraries around the country did such creative events around this topic in 2012. Surely the library I work at can join them in 2013?

The Journey Stories exhibit will be on display during October & November. Events will be taking place on site and off site to celebrate the Smithsonian coming to town! 


Giving thanks is the sentiment of the month. How can we as a library offer ways for people to give their thanks in creative ways? What workshops or other opportunities might exist either inside our buildings or in conjunction with our partners?

 NaNoWriMo is such a crazy idea that it can be so much fun. Looking for ways to spotlight local authors with this world-wide initiative.


Events really need to take place in the first few weeks in order to stay clear of people’s busy holiday schedules and decreased staffing capacities that generally happen at this time of year.

Eavesdropping by Kendra Brown

A few years ago, psychologist Kendra Brown found herself trying in her practice to help many women who simply felt stuck. The women Dr. Brown were meeting with were finding it hard to move through to the next phase of their life and were depressed about their situation. Dr. Brown despises the words “anti-aging” and decided to try to put together a resource to help women realize the options available to successfully navigate through the various stages of life. She invited several women to come together in a structured group setting and discuss these life experiences and come out of each meeting with concrete examples of how these women had gotten through various phases of their life — the good and the bad. The women that were chosen to be a part of this sharing circle were pretty remarkable women with very diverse backgrounds. Many of them had broken the glass ceiling in their respective careers, obtained advanced degrees while raising children, and were calling themselves feminists before that term was cool. The thing thing they all shared was the ability to keep trying– to continually strive for more out of each phase of life, including retirement.

The book that resulted is a fiction book with the story being told through the eyes of a thirty year old “eavesdropper” to the bi-weekly meetings that took place over a three year timespan. The topics covered provide a handy list of ideas for women facing a change in their life. It could also be helpful for grown children to read and use as a guide for navigating complex conversations with their aging parents.

The women gathered last night at the library for the launch of their new book. The community showed up (over 100!) to support this group of women and the message they have to share.  It was fun to meet the “Pages” (the name they had given themselves), whose voices I had read over the past couple of weeks while reading the book. I look forward to getting to know these community leaders more over the coming years. I could learn a lot!

I went to prison…. for library outreach services

Yesterday I presented at the Specter Grant Re-entry Seminar at the Martin Correctional Institution. I was asked to provide an overview of the opportunities available at the public library. The fifty men in attendance were in their last days/months of incarceration and were taking time yesterday to learn about places to go in the community where they would feel welcome and receive help in their journey to life outside of prison.

My speech went well. I was very grateful for the Benevon training I received a few years ago on learning how to tell the library’s mission in meaningful ways — as opposed to just listing out the services that are available by walking in the door of their nearest library. It definitely kept everyone’s attention and provided a richer experience than the traditional “this is what’s at the library” verbal tour.

I was one of the first speakers. Following me were United Way, Workforce Solutions, the Child Support collection agency, and the re-entry specialist for the prison system. Hearing these presentations really brought home the tremendous uphill struggle that these soon-to-be released inmates have to overcome. The fact is, many of them won’t succeed and will wind up back in this or another facility. Participating in yesterday’s program made me want to help in other ways. I’m wondering about the possibility of partnering up with Workforce Solutions and providing a place and materials for perhaps a mentoring or support group. I am short of time and staff to really make this a reality at this time, but if I find the right volunteer to bring this to a reality in the next year– I believe it could be a valuable resource for my community.

I will definitely present again, if invited. I will also try to keep this group of people in my heart and be open to ways to help all residents of the community I live in to succeed.

Event Wrap-Up: Gardening with Children

The Master Gardeners and the County Extension Service coordinated to bring a guest speaker to Stuart and conduct a talk entitled Gardening with Children. They asked if the library could partner and provide the space for the event and help advertise. I giddily agreed. I love this topic, and Anita  Neal with St. Lucie County Extension Service was a perfect speaker. She was hip and enthusiastic, which kept the very diverse crowd engaged. Pleasing an audience of kids, parents, and grandparents while trying to help everyone learn something can be challenging, but Neal rose to the occasion. Topics covered included vegetable gardening, hydroponics, and butterfly gardening. Participants were able to nibble cookies thanks to the Master Gardener volunteers, and Neal brought seed packets and rosemary cuttings for participants to take home and get started on their new gardening adventures.

The next time time I host a similar event I will create handouts or a bookmark with links to additional sources to supplement the lecture. Note to self.

Around 42 people were in attendance, and a great night was had by all.