Community Engagement for Your Library
Whether you work at a library or are a frequent member of one, you know how valuable a resource they can be to the community. For this reason, building and strengthening engagement with your members become a necessary component in these spaces. Here is our comprehensive list of ways to increase engagement in your library for a thriving community.
As a free resource in society, libraries can attract a lot of parents and children for an affordable day out of the house. For this reason, catering to the younger ages can help foster a significant part of the library population.
Designated play areas for kids are already becoming more common in libraries these days. Do you currently have one? Some facilities simply use a small corner with various toys, while others dedicate an entire room. An important thing to keep in mind for these spaces is that they can be disruptive to students or other people working out of the library since they can be noisy. For this reason, it’s best to either use a room divider to help create separation or have adult workstations on the other end of the library.
Toddler reading classes
Since you have a plentiful resource of books on hand, creating programs around these stories will help bring community engagement to your library. A viable option for these programs is having a librarian read to a group of toddlers and their guardians. The right story will easily entertain them and encourage reading on their own in the future.
If you allocate enough time after you finish the story, you can also add an interactive element to these programs. For instance, if you are reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle to the group, you can create an easy craft in the shape of the caterpillar. Then, these kids can ultimately take their projects home afterward. Since these events can attract a larger audience than the average day, it’s best to have a registration set up for people to come. This is also a great way to collect email addresses too to market any upcoming events.
Lunch and learns
Another great program that fosters community engagement in your library is lunch and learns. This event is what it sounds like; food is provided over the lunch hour while one or many presenters teach on a particular topic. The library itself can host these programs or an external source. While most resources in a library are free to use, an event like this can bring a possibility to fundraise for other events later on.
If you are looking for something that will help bring people through your doors, leveraging a famous author might be a great technique. Many times libraries will host an author talk and signing if there is enough room in the budget. Typically, librarians will work with a local bookstore to have enough copies of the authors’ books on hand. By including another organization in these events like this, you foster your member engagement and add value to your local community.
However, you should note that the bigger the author, the more money the event will cost. Many authors charge fees to do a talk and ask for their books to be provided for purchase. You may be able to use grant money to go towards this if you have it. Otherwise, it is perfectly acceptable to charge a fee at the door. Make sure to charge enough to cover expenses and for your library to profit. Ideally, this event will bring more people to the library, resulting in increased membership numbers and the potential for future grant money.
Go Beyond the Library Walls
Another way to bring new community engagement to your library is to outreach outside your facility. One example is using a bookmobile. These vehicles can travel to schools, parks, residential neighborhoods, or other public entities. The concept is essentially a van or bus filled with books that people can check out from the library. For this setup, bring a laptop to be able to register people for memberships and check out books. When they have to return the books, you either schedule the bookmobile to return to the exact location again or have them go to your facility. It’s essential to stay near your facility for this travel, so those checking out books are within the correct district.