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Here for You. Bringing non-traditional users to the library and strengthening social cohesion in rural communities. George Stock Oxford County Library For Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2004. . Harrington. Oxford County. Oxford County Library. 18 branches: one town

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here for you

Here for You

Bringing non-traditional users to the library and strengthening social cohesion in rural communities

George Stock

Oxford County Library

For Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2004

oxford county library
Oxford County Library

18 branches:

  • one town

Ingersoll population 11,000

  • 17 villages

populations 2,500 to 109

  • floor space

12,000 to 370 square feet.

here for you4
Here for You
  • Funded by Ontario Works and HRSD (then HRDC)
  • One program coordinator, one children’s services coordinator
  • Purpose: To attract low income families to the library and improve social cohesion
a market approach
A Market Approach

The product (service) offered must address the needs and characteristics of the target group

characteristics of target group
Characteristics of Target Group
  • Low income
  • Lack information resources, connection to resources
  • Different class “rules”
  • Value family
  • Low literacy
  • Stigmatized, socially excluded
  • Negative experiences in government and learning settings
design of activities
Design of Activities
  • Free admission
  • Emphasis on family activities
  • Fun-filled
  • Food/snack
  • Free draws
  • Low risk
    • Outside library
    • Subtle references to reading/learning
    • No social differentiation
free family fun days
Free Family Fun Days
  • “Art by Squirt”
free family fun days9
Free Family Fun Days
  • “Chalk a Walk”
free family fun days10
Free Family Fun Days
  • “Fall Thing”
free family fun days11
Free Family Fun Days
  • “Festive Family Fun”
free family fun days13
Free Family Fun Days
  • Popcorn, snacks, soft drinks
free family fun days14
Free Family Fun Days
  • Face-painting, tattoos, balloons
free family fun days15
Free Family Fun Days
  • Storytime often leads to spontaneous reading
  • Posters
  • Bulk mail - everyone included, minimal cost
  • Schools - wallet cards (“Kids: Bring your parents”)
  • Minimize words, include pictures of location, activities; highlight keywords “free”, “family”, “fun”
they say
They say….
  • Local content

(celebrates community)

  • Addresses but challenges mindset
  • Nostalgic component

(“we used to do that when we were kids”)

  • Promotes family values
  • Something for everybody
free draws
Free draws
  • Low risk way to collect participation data
  • Increases excitement
  • Books as prizes
targeted events
Targeted events
  • “Red Hot Wheels”
  • “Facts on Snacks”
  • “Drop in to be Well Aware”
  • “Map Your Farm”
  • “Net a Job”
i spy community scavenger hunts
“I Spy” Community Scavenger Hunts
  • Family-oriented.
  • Local questions relating to history, businesses, services, amenities, unique characteristics.
  • For fun. Prizes awarded based on draws. All participants given completion certificates
  • Prizes donated by local businesses, individuals, organizations.



  • 24 Family Fun events 1766
  • 26 Family information sessions 252
  • 13 Community Scavenger Hunts 600+
impact indicators
Impact Indicators
  • 34% of family fun event participants attended library only semi-annually or less frequently
  • first 6 events and 7 scavenger hunts known to result in 37 new cards issued
  • first 6 family fun events: 147 attended who were not previous library users
  • anecdotal evidence