Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mixing It Up

Often, when we plan and think of programs we only consider "active" programs - programs like storytimes or workshops where a library staffer or performer is the leader and is active throughout the session. Other types of programs - like passive (stealth) programs or DIY programs where kids can interact with material whenever they stop at the library - often aren't blended into the mix of program offerings. The class discussed the positives- and negatives - of having a variety of program types and what it can mean for workflow, engaging kids and balance within the department and the library!

- It seems that creating a mix of active, passive and DIY programs would really give the staff more time to concentrate on other aspects of the Youth Services department.  I have mentioned our Tot Spot area, which really takes care of itself, but I think most of our programming is active. My hesitation with having more passive/DIY programming would be the patron's reaction to it.  Maybe the passive programming would be a welcome change for them.  I love the idea of the Book Bundles and a Winter Reading Program.

I am in favor of mixing it up, especially for those libraires with one staff person in youth services. Perhaps someone else can fill in for the YS staff person while they are on vacation because you can pre-plan a passive program or have things set for DIY. I also think you have a lot of different needs in a community and what might work for one family, may not work for another. 
My daughter is a speedy crafter so if she went to a structured craft program she would be done in 5 minutes and antsy to leave. Also, arriving to a program on time can be another struggle with little ones! I'm all for drop-ins.

- A lot of this comes back to balance, I think. We previously talked about balancing age groups and balancing work and life, but it also applies here. I strive to balance the themes of the programs as well as everything else. 
Which is to say, I have Story Time, Crafts, Messy Art, Preschool Lab, and special events for the preschool set. I have reading with dogs, art, science club, cooking, and special events for the school-age crowd. I also do one program a month for the older kids and I try to find things that either have broad appeal or I specifically do something girly followed by something more boy (kids don't always fall into types, of course, and everyone is welcome to come to anything). 

For the most part, though (the exception being the crafts), these programs are all either programs or unprograms. I have had very few passive programs and I am now suuuuuper excited to add them to the mix. I think that they are perfect for my over-scheduled-but-still-want-to-come-to-the-library kiddos. I think the passive model will work especially well with the teens since I don't see them very often. 

Of course, there is a lot of prep work involved in a passive program, but once they are rolling by god they roll! I can't wait to try them. And if they ease my day-to-day burden a little? Even better. 

- I feel like the most important reason to have a mixture of programming styles is so kids come back. They don't want to keep doing the same thing over and over again. Lego club is great. Kids come in a build and we talk a bit but ultimately, they do it all themselves. I have had the suggestion from multiple patrons to have craft events. We provide the materials, but really, I'm just making sure nobody is cutting their hair or gluing themselves together. I think it's important to have events where the programmer is very involved. This is the best way to interact with the kids. You get to have fun and play and then you are seen as more fun I think. 

The only pitfall I see in doing this is that sometimes it's hard to incorporate all age groups which can deter families from coming. You may feel as though you need multiple events of the same kind to bring in all ages. For me, I feel like a family event is the best idea. Children who are old enough can participate on their own but the younger kids can have a parent or caregiver stay and help them. It's family time but it's also something to be hands on and relaxing. Kids need a break sometimes. They want to let loose and go crazy and I want the library to be the place to encourage that.

- Doing passive and DIY programs has been a work in progress for our library.  Our patrons are getting used to the idea of not having something guided so much and being able to come in and participate throughout the month with a more passive program and or just sitting down and doing a fun activity as part of a DIY program.  These types of programs are becoming more and more popular I think because this allows our patrons to not be tied down to a particular time frame.  People are more and more busy now a days and still like to participate but not neccessarly at the times we would offer programs.  
I don't have a hestiation in offering all three types of programs at our library, I think this offers our patrons a wide variety of activities that they can still take part in as part of their library experience.  

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