Library Bonanza

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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, 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

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!


20s Books & Brew: a Book Club for Millennials


There are several lists out there describing what millennials desire most in life (millennials described as people born between the 80s and early 2000s). You’ve got this list of pop culture references (mainly for those that grew up in the 90s and 00s), some things millennial girls love, and the most poignant Top 10 Things Millennials Want in a Hotel. So, what is your library doing to appeal to this generation?

The Sacramento Public Library has an established brand for their 20 & 30 somethings. It’s called “alt+library” and has quite the following of 600+ members on their Meetup group. They even have an alt+library Friends group that hosts craft programs in the summer months and then later sells the crafts and books at a little local craft fair. Lori Easterwood, the Programming and Partnerships Coordinator at Sacramento Public Library, is inspired to create & bring programs for her library based on her own creative interest. Also with the help of this fabulous community center called Workshop. And what beautiful programs they have made. Some of their programs include book discussions, workouts to various music genres (punk, goth, metal), themed workouts including zombie survival aerobics, Haunted Stacks (hosted by the local history archive), Bad Art Night, and, my favorite, Broke A$$ Holidays (DIY crafting). The last three have been the most popular, with Haunted Stacks bringing in about 100+ each year. They’re also partnering with a local art museum and having a Festivus celebration this year. FESTIVUS, people.


If you look at your adult programs, do you have anything awesome like these? Would you attend the programs? We have a fantastic following of adult patrons that attend our history-focused programs, so we focus our programming on what those patrons want (because they’re visibly showing their interest). But what if the patrons aren’t showing up at all because there have never been programs that they would be interested in attending?

In order to reach out to the demographic we rarely see at the library (especially the programs), we followed suit of Sacramento and created a book club solely for 20- & young 30-year-olds called “20s Books & Brew“. Its focus is on socializing and sharing opinions all while enjoying a good brewski. Although our intention is not to be ageist, we wanted to provide a book club that was labeled for 20s and 30s, giving this demographic their own special group, much like there are senior book clubs.

We draw from a wide background of mainly single, college-educated graduates with many micro-brew beer enthusiasts. I say mainly because we have several dedicated members that are married, have children, did not attend college, or are more wine fans. Because beer is involved, we also get a much higher turn out of males than any other library book club–also, a much higher turn out in general. When we started, we had about 6-8 people per book discussion, and now we fetch around 15-20 every month. We also have about half Fremont patrons that attend and half out-of-town, which we do not view as a problem (we all serve reciprocal borrowers).

As more and more people began attending the book club, we have made a few alterations:

  • We split up into smaller book discussions and have volunteer group leaders (I prepare the questions so that the group leader has something to work with). After the discussion has died down, we take a break and everyone takes a notecard and writes their opinion of the book in one sentence. I collect the notecards and read aloud the quick reviews, giving everyone a chance to voice their opinion.
  • We ask for money. $2 cash if you plan on eating appetizers, $10 cash if you plan on getting an alcoholic drink and will be eating appetizers. This way we only have one bill for the waiter/ess. Any more additional alcohol purchases are done at the bar.
  • Switched the day of the week because Thursdays are a popular restaurant night. We did this because our group can be promised a section to seat 15-20 people.

I think that one of the coolest things about this group is the format. At the beginning of the book club, the host librarians were choosing the books. But it became very clear that the members were interested in having a say. They also valued the book club for its ability to expose them to books they may have never read of their own accord. So, every other book club, we vote on various book genres. The librarians then choose five acclaimed books of each genre and the members get to vote on the book we will read.

Meetup is a fabulous venue for hosting this sort of program that draws a younger-age crowd. You can gauge basic interests of the audience by requesting answers for simple questions when they join your meetup. Ours are, “Intro,” “What kinds of books do you like to read?” and “What kind of beer do you prefer?” The poll option is wonderful for voting on books. It can also be a “safe” way to promote something that might be frowned upon by a more conservative audience. I’m talking the use of the word “a$$” here.

If you’re concerned about catching negative attention, Lori Easterwood offers her experience.

“Our administration is extremely supportive of this programming, and willing to take some chances to reach new people for library services.  Astoundingly, no one has complained!  We did talk about the possibility that being so deliberately provocative might cause problems, but our promotion strategy is very targeted (mostly online, and opt-in through meet-up) so I think we’ve avoided some trouble simply by flying under the radar of non-target audiences.”

So what are my top suggestions to start your own 20s/30s book club?

  • Do it at a bar/restaurant that serves good beer. You would not believe the amount of positive responses we received about us being beer-centric.
  • Use Meetup. It’s a great organizational tool. Groups also have to pay to have a meetup so it’s a little more reputable and reassuring for members to join up with a group of strangers.

I asked Lori what her favorite patron responses from programs were, and she referenced a favorite response from a fitness program, “I’ve never been this sweaty in a library.” Sweat away, millenials. Sweat away.

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