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.

January

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.

February

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…..

March

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…..

April

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!

May

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.

June

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?

July

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?

August

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.

September

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?

October

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! 

November

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.

 December

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.

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.

Connecting people with technology: Grand opening of the idea lab

Libraries have long provided the link between people and technology. Sometimes it is a matter of access, sometimes instruction, and sometimes discovery. Yesterday the library system I work for launched its first idea lab. This lab is a perfect illustration of how a library can be a connection point between a community and technology and be a place for access, instruction, and discovery all at one time. 

Imagine a brightly lit area inside a gorgeous library with three distinct zones for patrons to explore. There is an information desk staffed with either knowledgeable tech-savvy volunteers or staff where users may check out gadgets for use inside and outside of the library. Tablet computers, eReaders, iPod Touches, digital cameras, and Macbook Airs are now available along with a constantly changing spreadsheet of ideas for future purchases. Questions can be answered at the information desk utilizing one of the tablets, a pc, or a mac all in close proximity to the checkout station. The computer lab zone includes a combination of iMacs and brand new pcs available for use by anyone. In this open lab there is a large flat screen tv which can be utilized for demonstration purposes, to promote upcoming activities, or for class instruction. The third area is a studio complete with an iMac and a PC loaded with the newest version of Adobe Creative Suite, dual monitors, a portable light kit, a green screen, microphones, webcams, and a scanner.

This truly impressive space was made possible with district funds from a very supportive Commissioner. For it to grow and become self-sustaining, however, it will have to remain a very busy center known all throughout the county as THE place for people to come to in order to increase their digital literacy skills. This is a tall order for a library system with limited funds, but if the support shown by the community at yesterday’s grand opening event is any indication – the community is ready and willing to make this idea lab their go-to source for innovative technology.

Interacting with residents yesterday and being able to feel their excitement about the possibilities that exist for this lab to improve their individual lives was a very rewarding experience. I spoke with residents who had technology program ideas and fielded specific questions people had with their own digital devices. Most rewarding of all was watching a group of volunteers and staff come together to show what a library could really offer when it comes to the topic of digital literacy.