SCIENCE IN THE STACKS: DELIVERING PROGRAMS IN PUBLIC LIBRARIES
In the course of giving 40 hands-on presentations to over 2000 children and their families, we have learned a few lessons. These tricks of the trade include:
Be prepared – Be upfront with your needs (size of room, tables, equipment, materials, etc). However, if you’re doing anything with A/V equipment bring backups! Have a sense of what it is that you’d like to do and have the title and a short description of your program ready when you start contacting partners – these are things they will want to effectively advertise for your program. Bring extra supplies for any activity you’re leading.
Be flexible – Despite clearly stating an age range for a program, be ready for the whole family to come along! You’ll need to make sure you’re not excluding the younger or older sibling from the content of your program. We also found that any registration underestimated the actual attendance. Routinely an additional group of children (often a daycare or community recreation program) would arrive unannounced. Welcome these groups by being ready for them (in terms of materials and your attitude). With the diversity of sizes and age ranges (and attention spans) at each presentation, have “outs” in your program to shorten or lengthen depending on how things are going.
Be friendly – As representatives of our respective public or private institutions, we are ambassadors to the community. This may be one of the few direct interactions that a rural community may have with your institution and you want to make a good impression. Make your emails and in-person communications clear, open, and approachable.