public libraries

Thoughts after a big, great library event

Tonight we had the finale event for the Paint the Town Read initiative that we’ve been running for 2 months now. We hosted 2 great come-celebrate-and-show-you-love-the-library events–one at the Main Library and one at ImaginOn. We had, collectively, over 1,000 people show up to celebrate libraries on this Friday of National Library Week! (May I mention that we were running our events parallel with the Keith Urban & Carrie Underwood sold-out concert at the arena in downtown Charlotte in the same city block?) It was a wonderful, library-loving night!

Here are some thoughts on how to make big library events that people love:

1. People love music, especially live music. Tonight we showcased the rocking & pure lovely music of Lunch Money. If you haven’t booked them for your library, get on it!

2. People love to be surprised. Many folks showed up prepared to see the theatre event only at ImaginOn, not knowing that there was food, drink and goodies waiting for them. Those that came just for the party found that there were welcoming staff, giveaways, music and lots to do!

3. People love to be treated special. Staff roamed among the many hundreds of visitors and welcomed them and thanked them for coming. It is the same as if you were having a party at your house–remember that…treat every guest special. And it will be a special event.

Here’s to Emily and all the staff that helped make the Red, Read Party a Real, Really Special Event!


On the edge of wonder


Innovation is often more about taking what you have and adding a new ingredient than starting from scratch to create something new. What is a good ingredient to add to a standard program or service? Try “wonder.” What can we do to add an element of pure wonder into what we do each day–both for our users and our staff? My colleague Emily recently ventured into an arena of the common-gone-wonderful when she created and offered an unapologetic Noisy Storytime. Yes, a program that was consciously crafted to allow kids who want (and need) to make noise have their kind of experience. Working off an idea found in SLJ, she put it into action. We have the opportunity each day to inject our programs, services and tools with the element of wonder (you may call it delight, energy, newness) into what we do. It’s not always the easiest thing to do when we’re balancing the many plates of our day-to-day–yet possible.  Take a look at Emily’s post on the Library in Action blog for inspiration. Need some other ways to stir the wonder into what you do? Try these to start:

1. Bring something strikingly beautiful into your space (office, workroom, lobby) and let it speak for itself.

2.  Ask yourself: what would my program look like if I allowed “the audience” to run the show? Let at least some of it happen.

3. Allow a kid to teach you something. Even something you know how to do already.

What give you a feeling of “Wonder?” Move with that.