The library program ‘explosion’ [UPDATED]Published 9:30am Friday, September 28, 2012 Updated 11:31am Friday, September 28, 2012
As the Fergus Falls Public Library staff switches gears and our fall programs begin, I am reminded of an article I read a few months back discussing the “programming explosion” happening in public libraries.
The article made the case that, although public programs have long been a library mainstay, new needs stemming from the recession, a shift to digital devices and an increased focus on lifelong learning have led to a greater demand for the amount and variety of programs offered by public libraries.
Indeed, program attendance at the Fergus Falls Public Library has been increasing steadily for years. Overall program attendance has grown 35 percent in the last five years alone.
The number and type of programs offered at the library has also increased steadily during that time frame. For example, the library now offers a baby/toddler storytime, regular one-on-one technology assistance and classes, a book club for adults and ongoing programming for teens.
These programs, for the most part, did not exist five years ago, and customer demand is already making them core library programs. So what does this increasing program diversity and demand mean for libraries and librarians?
Well, the number of potential programs to offer is, as you might imagine, endless. So, how do we decide what will make a good library program? Customer demand is the biggest determining factor.
We survey participants and consider program attendance when trying out new programs. We also consider what programs are offered by other community organizations.
As the demand for and variety of library programs increases, we have been very lucky to be able to reach out to other community organizations and form effective partnerships to ensure mutual success.
For librarians, the new programming needs and interests also mean library staff members need to learn new devices and participate in continuous learning.
Our library staff members have really taken this to heart. We’ve taken a number of classes ourselves, in addition to participating in ongoing, self-led learning, so that we can meet our customer’s current (and future) information and literacy needs.
The library, in terms of space, has also been impacted by the increasing demand for and variety of programs we offer. The library’s only meeting room, the Jean Dahling Room, has been used over 350 times this year alone.
This room is used for library programs and can also be rented by the public and other organizations. Indeed, our Jean Dahling Room is our meeting room, programming room, computer lab, public meeting space, and small group study all rolled in one.
It is not out of the ordinary to have more than 6 programs happen in the room in one day.
This programming explosion has made the Fergus Falls Public Library an even more dynamic, lively, community meeting place.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve stopped by to check out our program roster, come pick up a brochure or visit us online at www.fergusfalls.lib.mn.us.
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at the library.
Erin Smith, is the director of the Fergus Falls Public Library.