What philosophies, goals, and practices give heft to other public libraries’ programs and special events? And how can my library tap into that, too? I recently set out to tackle these questions by chatting with administrators at several nearby Kansas libraries, as well as public libraries in other Midwest university towns. Besides getting to talk to some awesome librarians, I learned volumes about how my peer libraries are fulfilling their mandate to become a public forum, classroom for lifelong learning, and community living room.
You didn’t seem to mind the nerdiness of last week’s post, so I thought you might be ripe to handle a little bit more. Here’s what I found out! Synthesized from verbal and written answers, strategic plans, and programming policies from Midwest college town libraries, I bring you:
15 Programming Trends in College Town Libraries
(The fine print: this data was collected by visiting 3 libraries and emailing 62 to interview them about their programming practices and policies. I received feedback from 20 libraries total, for a 32% response rate. 16 provided substantial feedback. Scroll to the end to see the full list of contributing libraries.)
1. Programming is a Core Function of the 21st Century Library
- Programming is one of the Library’s three core services, along with collections and services.
- Programs foster community, meet the educational and entertainment needs of the community, promote the collection, cultivate lifelong learners, and give citizens the opportunity to interact with their fellow residents.
- The purpose of programming is to recognize and respond to current issues facing the community, and to encourage cooperation and collaboration within the community.
2. Programming Supports Exploration and Lifelong Learning, Stimulates the Imagination, and Facilitates Community Engagement
- Library programs can satisfy community members’ needs for successful lifelong learning, everyday information, and exploration of topics of personal interest. Support and nourish the community’s spirit by offering programs that stimulate imaginations and enrich lives.
- Create a safe, comfortable, and welcoming hub of community living and culture, providing a forum for social connections, civic engagement, and the exchange of ideas.
- Promote the Library’s meeting facilities to government and community organizations as a neutral place to hold hearings and meetings.
- Cultivate a philosophy of open access to information and ideas by offering non-discriminatory programming; refrain from excluding topics, books, and speakers that might be controversial.