Altoona Public Library
She grew up in a small town in Iowa, in a rural community. She is assistant director of her library, in a town of 17,000. THey are known as the “Entertainment Capital.”
They have a lot of programs for kids, and decided they need to do more for the adults. There wasn’t a lot of excitement for author talks.
In the last two years, they have had a staffing shift.
They did a survey and asked parents of the kids coming in. They surveyed people out and about, and people were receptive to give honest answers.
They found out that adults wanted to have fun, to have a place to socialize and not necessarily talk about a book or listen to a speaker. They saw how teens were having fun and wanted to experience it.
How do we justify fun? It’s ok to convince busy adults to have fun and enjoyable, because they will become lifelong learners in other ways.
But why after hours? They have the one space and so many kids and teens programs. They are the only free community building in their town, so they have a lot of non-profit groups who use the space. They didn’t want to push these groups out, but wanted to do other times. They decided to pursue Friday and Saturday nights. During after-hour programs, the front desk was not open, so they didn’t need anyone staffing the desk. They were able to better utilize their staff. Everyone likes the “behind the scenes” feel.
How to Get Started:
They had to look at their resources. What is the budget? They had about $1,000 a year for programming. They had to look at programs that didn’t involve a lot of money. They looked at potential community partners. They also wanted to find inspiration online and from other libraries.
What about the city code regulations? Could they serve alcohol? In the hand book, it said that staff couldn’t drink while being paid.
Are they allowed to have people after hours?
Staffing, Volunteers, Budgeting, Liability, Registration. These were things they had to consider.
Staffing: They have a rule that no one can be in the building by themselves. They also needed an emergency plan.
She handed our a liability release that they use for programs, which was recommended by their city lawyer.
Can you accept donations??
Are there other organnizations willing to donate?
Are you allowed to charge a fee?
Registration Required? They had to decide what the minimum and maxiumum numbers would be. If they don’t have a minimum number, they might have to cancel.
Required: Limited space, set-up takes a lot of time, limited seats, or canceled due to weather.
They use a calendar, LibCal, that is embedded on their website.
Where to adverstise: Everywhere they can. They use Facebook a lot and it works for them, They have digital displays in the library, but can also use their outdoor sign. They email the chamber and those emails are forwarded.
She showed us a planning worksheet. This helps if people have to fill in.
Things they have done:
Grownup Game Night: 5-8 pm, Registration required, served walking tacos. Had to be 18 to attend. Min of 5, Max of 30
Library Laser Tag: Local business brings in laser guns and obstacles. They did a program for adults and teens.
Robotics: Club provided sets and wanted a $100 donation.
Game Truck: Local business provided game trusk on library lawn. They had 6 gaming sessions. He gave them a discount to do three sessions.
The Do-It Yourself: They started looking at community trends. The trend was social painting. The closest to them was 20-25 minutes and $28-45. They had to pay $28 for this at the library, per person.
They came up with Splat Studio. THey bought the supplies (Canvases, paint, brushes, plates, table covering). They had registration and asked for a $5 fee. They had it from 6-8:30 pm.
Once they had money, they bought palettes, easels, better brushes, bulk paint, plastic covering.
Trend: Jewelry Making, offered an inexpensive class. They asked people to donate old jewelry and went to Goodwill and Consignment stores. They collected interesting pieces that could be re-made.
Very basic thing, and it’s 1.5 hours. They also ask for $5 or donate another pair of jewelry.
The Movin’ Out: They met at other locations and chose slower business times. They can advertise what is going on a lot more effectively. They did “Last Call Coloring” at a local pub. Adult coloring where people could draw/color and have a drink.
Reader’s Meet Up: Book club at a bar, with cheap appetziers. The library bought some apps and they talk about a book.
Numbers: 185 people to 543 people, over 2015-2017. Same average number, but people are happier. They are getting more action at the library.