Programs for Adults

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Success Stories

Great Ideas for Adult Programming

Bold Great Idea for Adult Programs: Follow Your Local School Calendar for Family Programming Work with your Childrens Programmers and make sure there's something fun to do every day the kids are out for breaks during the school year. This could be as simple as showing the newest G or PG DVD or having a martial arts exhibition.


Job Interviewing & Resume Workshops Contact your local community college job center. Many community colleges have outreach coordinators that will present at your library for free.

Bold Great Idea for Adult Programs: TechRx: Our experts, your sick computer -a free computer help workshop

This is a great program for public libraries. At the Stillwater Public Library, we teach beginning level computer classes each week, where we instruct folks on software programs and internet, but we do not have tech staff on hand to answer questions about PC hardware. Holding a one-time two-hour program dedicated to one-on-one computer assistance filled this need that we cannot provide for on a regular basis.

I held the workshop on Saturday, March 10, 2007. In order to have computer experts, I tried to solicit help from local business owners who fix computers, the local IT departments from the university, the technical school and a local computer corporation, but the interest was minimal. Our library is part of the City of Stillwater, so the head of our IT department and one of his crew members agreed to come give their expert help.

The local newspaper, Stillwater Newspress, wrote an article about the TechRx program the Sunday before it was scheduled to occur, and I asked that if anyone else was interested in helping, they call the library. The next morning, a gentleman who owns a computer business in Stillwater, called to volunteer. Also present were an undergraduate student who works in the library in the circulation department who has interest in computers, and the husband of one of our librarians. The team of experts consisted of 5 people available to help.

The crew from our IT department brought diagnostic equipment of all sorts, and participants were encouraged to bring their own PCs for testing. A few people had problems that weren't hardware related, such as "how do I find a file" or "how do I delete this program"? The library provided monitors, power strips, headphones, floppy discs and CD-Rs, the meeting room, and refreshments (cookies, coffee and water). Each participant was required to sign a release form which dictated they would not hold our library or city employees responsible for anything that might happen to their computers, the experts gave follow up directions, each participant filled out a program evaluation, and received a copy of a glossary of computer terminology from Michael Miller's book Easy Computer Basics, with author permission.

The program was set to run from 11am-1pm, a come and go program, but we ended up staying until 2 because of great participation from the community. The experts were very cooperative, friendly, and professional, and the participants were very grateful that we could offer such a service free of charge.

I created flyers and posters for the program about one month before the program, and distributed them throughout the community in coffee shops, restaurants, etc. I also e-mailed library employees and city employees e-flyers, sent a press release to all local media, had an interview with the local newspaper, included the information in the library's newsletter and on our myspace page, which I am in charge of.

Even though librarians are not computer experts, we can still get assistance from other agencies in our towns to reach out to our community members. Some of the participants were library regulars, and some I had not seen before.



Bold Great Idea for Adult Programs: Cookie Swap

A great way to get holiday cooking ideas is to hold a cookie swap. During the month of December, people always love to bake. Swapping cookies is a light-hearted, fun event for bakers of all ages.

Held December 9, 2006 at the Stillwater Public Library in one of our meeting rooms, the cookie swap program was a success. Sign-up was required for this program, so participants would know how many cookies to bake. We had four people, and each person made a very different type of cookie: ginger snaps, gumdrop cookie bars, not your momma's chocolate chip cookies, and peppermint cookies were offered.

I began with a welcome session (introducing everyone to each other, and introducing myself) and a 40 minute PowerPoint presentation about the history of cookies and baking in the U.S. I included lots of pictures as well as websites and book references. Then, I handed out recipes from Alton Brown, FoodTv personality and scientist/chef, about the difference between Chewy, the Puffy and the Thin. Essentially, we had a fun discussion about the chemical properties of the ingredients, and I learned some tips from some of the more experienced bakers in the crowd!

I wanted to give a prize for the favorite cookie, so I wrote to local food establishments and bakeries to get donated gift certificates. The group who came through was Panera Bread, who donated a generous $20 gift certificate. I waited until the end of the program, after the lecture and the cookie tasting, and participants filled out a ballot for their favorite cookie. I tallied the results, and bestowed the bow-wrapped gift certificate to the lucky winner, which was "not your momma's chocolate chip cookies." I don't dare divulge the recipe, but their special ingredient was bourbon.

About 5-6 weeks prior to the program, I created flyers (both paper and electronic) for distribution all throughout the community. (see TechRx entry for more details) Participants were asked to fill out an evaluation at the end of the program, and could take home all recipes. So essentially, it was a cookie and recipe swap.

In retrospect, December is such a busy time for people, as many host guests, travel to visit friends and family, so the low turnout may have been because of the time chosen. However, the people who participated had a great time, and so did I, so I think we will have this program again.



Bold Great Idea for Adult Programs: Altered Book Workshop

This is especially ideal for public libraries. At my library, we receive many book donations from the public, and our Friends of the Library accept most donations to sell. However, there are quite a few books that get tossed, but can be utilized by creative folks.

What is an altered book?


It can be as simple as painting or drawing on single book pages, or as complex as constructing furniture out of books.

Here are some examples of what an altered book can be:

  • travel journal
  • photo album
  • memory book
  • scrapbook
  • gift

I held a workshop on Saturday, September 30, 2006 called "Altered Bookshop: Turn Old Books Into Art". There was a lot of community interest, and we advertised all over town; so we had a great turnout, about 10 people. (Our town, Stillwater, Oklahoma, has a population of around 40,000, but our public library serves the entire county of Payne, where over 68,000people reside.)

The workshop was constructed as such:

  • tables set up into work stations for each activity (book choosing, painting, gluing, cutting, material gathering)
  • snacks and drinks provided by the library (snacks made by volunteers, if possible)
  • Welcome and introduction to significance of altered books, show examples: using MS PowerPoint
  • Have at least one volunteer or library employee at each station (we had a 1.5 hour training session to introduce techniques prior to workshop date)
  • coordinator serves as troubleshooter, answers questions, oversees and supervises
  • safety precautions were emphasized heavily because sharp blades were used, and hot glue. A first-aid kit was nearby.

The emphasis of this workshop was on learning the techniques, not creating a final project. That way, participants did not feel pressured to turn out products of certain artistic quality. Prior to the workshop, my fellow librarians and I gathered lots of scrap materials from library employees, personal resources, and the "library vault of things," and organized them for display for the workshop participants to take home. We provided the bags and encouraged people to take as much as they wanted, so they could work on their altered book at a later date.

Resources used for content: Italic The Altered Book Scrapbook by Susan Ure, Italic Altered Art : Techniques for Creating Altered Books, Boxes, Cards & More by Terry Taylor, and Italic Altered Books Workshop : 18 Creative Techniques for Self-expression by Bev Brazelton. The images I used for examples were taken from www.alteredbookartists.com, the website for the International Society of Altered Book Artists.

As soon as the workshop was over, people were asking the date for the next workshop! IF YOU WOULD LIKE THE FORMS WE'VE USED AT ANY OF THESE PROGRAMS, SEND ME AN E-MAIL AT JSIXKILLER@STILLWATER.ORG


Lifelong learning classes at the library

The Salina Public Library in Salina, Kansas, has for two years offered a schedule of between 45-70 community classes each "semester." These classes are from a broad range categories including health and wellbeing (tai chi, reflexology, healthy eating, for example), books and literature (book discussion groups, topic discussions, writing classes), dance and music (ballroom dance, folk harp), languages (Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, sign language), food and cooking (vegetarian cooking, Indian cuisine) and much more. The classes are a popular offering and encourage library users to learn in a new way -- through working with individuals in the community with skills to share. Our class website changes as each semester begins (in January and September) and throughout the semester as classes fill or after they have happened (http://www.salpublib.org/Class/schedule.htm). We charge reasonable fees for these classes to pay for the program costs. Most instructors are volunteers. We pay professionals to share their skills (dance, languages, etc.), and we pay for materials used in the classes so participants pay only one simple fee. Our classes range from free to $125, with an average fee of a bit less than $30 per class. This has been a popular program and has brought new vibrancy to the library. We are referred to by those who participate as a "cultural center" because of the range of activities we now encompass -- free computer classes, traditional storytimes for children, and now lifelong learning classes for adults.

"Adult Summer Reading Program"

We at the Marysville Public Library have a very laid back program. Each participant fills out a slip for each book they've read. In addition, they get to fill out multiple slips if they read to a child, read a book of poetry, or read a book and watch the corresponding movie. We then draw for prizes each week and then have a big grand prize at the end of the program. It isn't much but it encourages adults to read with their kids and it rewards grown ups for their reading practices too.


Technology Oriented Programs

This is great for public libraries. At a library I worked at, they set up a tech help desk that meets three times a week for one hour during library hours. It is on a first come, first served basis, though sometimes the program lasts longer than the allotted one hour depending on how many people show. This is run by the IT department and provides answers related to any type of tech related questions. Many questions would include how to use a certain software. troubleshooting hardware, how to use e-readers, phones, setting up online accounts, and general recommendations. The program is very successful and patrons seem to love it.

Another idea that was implemented by the library is a build your own computer class. Again, this was taught by the IT department. It serves a dual purpose. The computers that are built are not kept by the patrons nor do they pay for anything, they simply learn. The computers that are built are used to replace staff and public computers within the library. This saves some work for the IT department too.

Weekly classes on different technologies for patrons are a great idea. Every class that was offered was nearly full each time. Some of the classes include Social Networking, Microsoft Word Part 1 and 2, Microsoft Excel Part 1 and 2, Google Apps, Internet Security, eBooks, and Computer Basics Part 1 and 2. These can be offered on a rotational basis depending on which ones turn out to be most popular.

Blogs/Websites to Watch

EZ Library Program Database http://midhudson.org/resources/ezprogram.htm A searchable database of programs created by librarians for children and teens.

There is a flickr group for collecting photos from library events accross NJ: http://www.flickr.com/groups/njlibraryevents/

The description for the NJ Library Events group is as follows: This is a place where you can post pictures from NJ library events. NJ libraries are community centers or the "third place" where people come to gather. Whether our events have a small group of a couple of people or a huge group of thousands they have one thing in common ... community.

OCL Diversity Exchange http://theoceancountylibrary.org/cookbook/index.asp The Ocean County Library maintains the Diversity Exchange to facilitate diversity program ideas throughout the system and to other libraries who may find it useful.

Specific Blog Posts/Articles to Check Out

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