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THINKING INSIDE THE BOX: Portable Programs for Public Libraries Lindsay Schluter, Youth Services Librarian Sophie Walker, Teen Services Librarian Winnipeg Public Library
WPL’s Portable Programming • Family Literacy Fun Day Kits (FLFD) • Teen Programs in a Box (TPIB)
Outline • What are “portable programs?” • Overview of FLFD • Results of the program at WPL • Customizing the concept: • Funding • Station Planning • Training • Promotion • Impact on the community
What are Portable Programs? • Ideas and instructions for programs are planned centrally • Supplies purchased in advance and packed in durable plastic totes • Staff book programs with central coordinators and receive program kit via library’s delivery system
Benefits • Minimize costs • Supplies can be ordered in bulk • Materials are re-used • Maximize staff time • Program created once, and used over and over again
Family Literacy Fun Day at Winnipeg Public Library
What is Family Literacy? Family literacy refers to the many different ways that families can work and play together while developing reading and writing skills. It is a way of improving literacy while having fun as a family.
By the Numbers…. 19 Family Literacy Fun Days! 1048 Participants! • Average number of participants per branch: 41 • High End: 225 participants at Louis Riel Library • Low End: 19 participants at St. Vital Library
Response From the Public We had a wonderful time! This was our first time coming to the library! When is the next one? A great time for family bonding! We Loved it! All the activities had elements of fun and learning!
Response from Staff I think it is a great idea and look forward to hosting another one. We realize now that the program can be a success via drop in. There is always the uncertainty of numbers when there is no registration. This is a great program and I can see it becoming more popular after every event as people become more familiar with it. I would love to see more ‘portable programs’ such as this.
It’s 100% Portable! This is a program that is designed to maximize the re-usability of program materials, and minimize the staff time spent planning and preparing! Family Literacy Fun Day Kit port-a-ble : moveable, convenient, handy, compact, wieldy
Funding • Community Foundations • Toronto Community Foundation • Government Organizations • Ontario Trillium Foundation • Canada Post • Non-Profit Organizations • ABC Life Literacy Canada • Kiwanis Clubs • Rotary Clubs • United Way of Canada • Raise-a-Reader • Businesses • Indigo Books, Music & More
Station Planning • Public Libraries Winnipeg Public Library London Public Library Toronto Public Library • Non-Profit Organizations North West Territories Literacy Council National Adult Literacy Database ABC Life Literacy Canada • Early Childhood Education Suppliers Wintergreen Scholar’s Choice Invest in quality totes!
Training • Family Literacy Fundamentals • What is Family Literacy? • Why is it important to foster Family Literacy skills? • Logistics of Family Literacy Fun Day • Scheduling • Staffing • Set-up • Advertising Train all staff on safety procedures!
Promotion How Did You Hear About Family Literacy Fun Day?
Portable Programs Rock! The possibilities are endless!
TPIB Project: History • Based on SDCL TPIB project, 2007 • Simple concept: everything in the box! • Consumable supplies • Tools • Instructions • Recommended books for display • Booked by branches • Sent via delivery or courier to location
Our Project • Started in 2008 • Team of 4 librarians, 2 “research assistants” • Passionate about teen programming, or at least giving teens something to do • Knew it would be a challenge to get everyone on board • Needed funding; no wiggle room in children’s and adult programming budgets
Grant Application • Funded by Jack Montgomery Community Outreach Grant, offered by Library Board • Failed on first application, needed to rewrite and resubmit before funding was awarded • Liked the level of detail and research that went into our proposal: • Detailed budget with itemized lists of supplies and with estimated costs • Statistics
Statistics Teen usage of libraries at WPL:
Customizing TPIB to WPL Our project: • Funded by grant • $5000 Budget: • $3000 for kit contents • $1500 for promotional materials • $300 for packing/shipping • $200 for resupply • 1-year timeline
So many kit ideas… …so what do you choose? • Customizing the TPIB Concept for WPL: • Looked at examples of other libraries • Looked at old wish list of programs • Looked at our skill sets, built list of “doable” programs
Customizing TPIB for WPL “And why is this a LIBRARY program?” • Fun for fun’s sake is not quite enough • Must be related to our library’s collection and overall mission • Repeat the mantra: the purpose of the program is the collection • Helps in persuading administration, staff
Source: Library Journal, 10/1/2009, Vol. 134 Issue 16, p. 27 Value Proposition
Our Value Proposition • Criteria: • Popularity with teen audience • Ease of repetition/cost of re-supply • Staff effort needed to run programs • Lack of similar programming in catchment area • Tie-in to Library collections • Tie-in to Library’s overall mission
Assembling the kits • Purchasing and assembling wasn’t easy • Strategies: • Pilot programs to ascertain volume • Budget may need revision • New supplies that need to be added • Good suppliers, maximize trips • Local wholesalers • Retail stores (Michaels, Walmart, Home Depot) • Dollar stores (Dollarama)
Dungeons & Dragons CD Clocks Bags & Bows Wandmaking workshop Collage Art workshop Jewelry-making Zombie Makeup WPL’s TPIB Kits • Wii Gaming (2 kits) • Duct Tape crafts • Mini dolls/Fabric crafts • Sock Puppets • Bookmaking, card-making & scrapbooking • Board Games
Contents • Guide • Patterns, instructions & samples • List of books for booktalking and display • Posters, Display Boards and Handouts
Staff Buy-in and Participation • Staff buy-in has been positive • Wanted to see 100% increase in teen programming across system from 2009 to 2010 • Offerings increased from 10 programs at 5 locations to 27 programs at 14 locations over the same time period • Staff have been eager to book kits, even asking months in advance • Part-time staff are getting involved
Troubleshooting Promotion • Difficult to combat the “If You Host It, They Will Come” mentality among staff • Word-of-mouth marketing remains the most essential tool for branch programs • Staff need to be engaged in program or it can fail • Display posters, samples at talking points • Circ counters, ref desks—wherever staff regularly engage teens • Try, try again
Marketing • $1500 of TPIB budget was set aside for promotional materials • Half spent on Teen Summer Reading promotions, remainder used to create lasting posters for schools and libraries • Advertised events on WPL teen Facebook page, YouTube
Sharing? • Teen kits don’t have to be just for teens • Tools can be re-purposed for adult programming, tween events • Outreach programs in schools, remote locations • Teachers, community groups interested? • Share the wealth (of knowledge, at least) • Make guides, instructions available
Conclusion: Why In A Box? • Programming is hard, time consuming • Addresses challenges that staff face: • need for specialized training • time to design, assemble and promote the program • cost of the materials • Box programs provide branch staff with everything they need to provide self-directed, high-interest programs
Benefits • Minimization of costs • Supplies can be ordered in bulk • Expensive items not duplicated • Maximization of staff time • Initial creation takes time • Cost associated with time decreases with each repetition of same program • Ease of use
Thanks for Listening!! Lindsay Schluter email@example.com Sophie Walker firstname.lastname@example.org wpl.winnipeg.ca wpl-teens.winnipeg.ca facebook.com/wpl.teens