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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

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

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  • . Harrington

Oxford County

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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.

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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

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A Market Approach

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

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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

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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

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Free Family Fun Days

  • “Art by Squirt”

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Free Family Fun Days

  • “Chalk a Walk”

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Free Family Fun Days

  • “Fall Thing”

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Free Family Fun Days

  • “Festive Family Fun”

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Free Family Fun Days

  • Popcorn, snacks, soft drinks

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Free Family Fun Days

  • Face-painting, tattoos, balloons

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Free Family Fun Days

  • Storytime often leads to spontaneous reading

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  • 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”

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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

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Free draws

  • Low risk way to collect participation data

  • Increases excitement

  • Books as prizes

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Targeted events

  • “Red Hot Wheels”

  • “Facts on Snacks”

  • “Drop in to be Well Aware”

  • “Map Your Farm”

  • “Net a Job”

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“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.



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  • 24 Family Fun events 1766

  • 26 Family information sessions 252

  • 13 Community Scavenger Hunts 600+

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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