Library Bonanza

Ready, Set, Program!

Baby Art Playground: Tummy Time Painting

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This was definitely one of the easiest (and most inexpensive) Baby Art Playgrounds to whip up on the fly–and it achieved the same happy results. Supplies were things we already had around the library including acrylic paint, cardstock paper, and ziploc bags. Prep was minimal and involved cutting the paper to fit inside the bag and gathering a bit of research around the benefits of tummy time for babies. So why tummy time?

  1. Strengthen their upper bodies. Due to carrier convenience (from car to stroller) and the new campaign for babies to sleep on their backs, most babies are not getting enough tummy time. Holding the weight of their upper body up with their hands develops muscles that will later grasp a pencil and hold scissors.
  2. Provides a new perspective on the space they live in. As a sensory experience, babies are engaging their hands, torsos, and legs in a new, unique way that develops valuable tactile and proprioceptive input on their bodies.
  3. Motivate baby to crawl. With toys scattered around, baby may gain motivation to inch towards something truly enticing. And crawling is essential for building brain development (cross-lateral integration) and gross motor skills.

In addition to playtime distractions such as painting through a bag, here are some other easy-to-use tips from I Can Teach My Child that you can give to parents.

And now for some squishy babies with squishy bags:

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Broke Holidays: 20s and 30s Craft Night

And now a break from my regularly scheduled baby programming. Presenting a millennial program so delightful, so utterly essential to providing age diversity to your adult programming that you will find these elusive millennials crawling out of their microbrew pubs, detaching themselves from their cat collecting apps*, and scrambling for a babysitter just to come to your program. Inspired by Sacramento Public Library’s Alt Library group and met with great fanfare, my library hosted a free Broke Holidays program meant to provide a fun, crafting, sociable experience for those jostling for an inexpensive gift. Here was the description:

Here come the holidays and there goes your money. Save some extra bitcoin this holiday season and craft your frugal heart out for that special someone, or for that 3rd cousin who insists on getting you something every year. Supplies and an escape from home are provided.

*Hot trend subject to change.

Pitching the idea

I have been wanting to do this program for a very very long time. When I revealed my inspiration to a coworker and she grew equally as excited, my dreams were slowly on their way to reality. Pitching the idea to my superiors went more smoothly than expected for two reasons: (1) we already had a successful 20s/30s book club, and (2) I tied the purpose of the program to lofty goals of the library as a whole. As a millennial myself, I notice that the majority of adult programming at my library (and most others) focuses on lecture-style educational enrichment and musical performances that are geared to an older audience. While these are well-attended and certainly valued within my library’s community, they may not appeal to 20 & 30 year olds. By providing a practical program with a fun/silly advertising bent, this age group may identify the public library as relevant in their lives after years of separation.

I originally pitched the idea as Broke A$$ Holidays, but was given some slightly hesitant looks by my manager. Other names came up like Thrifty Holidays, but I really liked the self-deprecating attitude of the original, so an easy compromise was forged with Broke Holidays.

Program Prep

There was a decent chunk of planning for this program. We had to choose the crafts and how many we were going to do, buy the supplies in bulk, and market. We decided to go with three crafts to provide an enticing diversity. Although I had gathered a plethora of fun and unique ideas (found here on my Pinterest board), the crafts we finally selected had simple instructions, lower costs for buying in bulk, and we already had some supplies from past programs.

And here are the Broke Holidays Instruction Handouts that were at each station.

Program Execution

We had a remarkable turnout for a first-time event. Twenty-five people showed from a variety of places. While the program didn’t reach many eyes through the newsletter (it came out 2 weeks before the program), we were able to recruit people through meetup.com, baby storytimes, our millennial book club, a paid Facebook ad (only about 2-3 people from this one–but they were all brand new users!), and many staff members helped pad the numbers (hey, some were also patrons!).

Our decorations were slightly lackluster, but we did make a Festivus pole which was VERY IMPORTANT. We also played a great holiday playlist from Songza (which is now part of Google, but, ugh, whatever) and provided coffee, snacks, and a hot chocolate bar. I think we also found a red, circular shag rug that we used. CAN’T FORGET ABOUT THAT.

We provided a 3 question survey at the end to gauge future interest. Here are the top three programs that they would like to attend in the future:

  1. Craft Programs
  2. Bad Art Night
  3. Wine and Canvas Event
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Clearly we are getting ready for the Feats of Strength.

What Worked

  • Have a partner in crime. If you are able to, co-organize this program with a coworker so that you have someone to share the labor love and to bounce ideas off of–especially if this is the your first time venturing into territory such as this.
  • Have at least two craft options and publicize the crafts.  I truly believe that the variety enticed patrons to the event–with only 2 cancellations–because they really wanted to come and make what was advertised. We didn’t publicize the crafts in the newsletter because they weren’t finalized by the time it was published, but we were able to promote the crafts through social media, at our book club, and to friends.
  • Market to your baby mommas and daddies. We got about 10 parents from our storytime group by promoting it within the storytime to young parents. I also put up a link to our sign-up page on a Facebook networking group which garnered a lot of interest.
  • Provide an ample amount of socializing. We received positive feedback from participants that appreciated the more relaxed atmosphere that allowed them to socialize while crafting. We had instructions sheets available and gave a brief introduction to the crafts with essential instructions, but then left the hour and a half open to crafting and socializing.

What I Must Drink to Forget

  • Buy more Scrabble tiles. If you want to do the Scrabble tile coasters, you are going to need an insane amount of tiles. I ordered 200 tiles and maybe 15 were made, leaving almost half without a coaster. Participants could only make one due to the limited supplies and limited time, so consider having this be the only craft or 1 of 2 options available. That way, they can make a pair of coasters to gift.
  • Perler bead craft first. Encourage people to do the 8-bit ornament/perler bead craft first as this requires the most staff time to complete by sealing the beads with an iron.

Are you doing any millennial programming at your library? Post below if you are! Let’s brainstorm!

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