Just keep swimming

I started my current job over the summer–in the midst of that chaos and endless stream of caffeine known as Summer Reading. When things died down in the fall, I laid back in my chair and thought, “think what I can accomplish now that my blood pressure doesn’t rise every time I step in the building.”

My list of things to do is always comprised of suggestions that patrons have made to me.

Item one on the agenda: Get a series going for babies and toddlers. Parents were telling me that there just weren’t enough events in the community that were appropriate for our smallest patrons. We offered a series of playdates that featured child development specialists (registration required) and a weekly Baby and Me storytime. I added another monthly Sensory Workshop in which babies and toddlers were free to explore and play with sensory activity bins or toys. Check, check.

Item two? Schedule more programs for homeschoolers. I had someone almost every day asking me for more activities for this special community and I obliged first by planning a social gaming day. We had plenty of board games and video games to keep the room hopping but only one family attended.

Now what?

I asked my co-workers if there had ever been success in planning programs for the homeschool crowd. My team had tried lots of things–book clubs, social hours like mine, science classes, you name it—and they couldn’t get steady or significant attendance. We sat around and scratched our heads for a moment before a co-worker suggested starting an advisory board.

That’s it! A homeschool advisory board was just the ticket! Gold stars all around!

I put up signs around the library, pounced on patrons I knew who homeschooled, and reached out to local organizations for help. One organization became our partner and gave us two collaborative programs that will be scheduled for the spring. Eight families also signed onto the advisory board. I was having some…shall I say it? Success.

Today was the first meeting of our HAB and you want to know how it went?

One family came.

Heartbreak.

I have to tell you that the family who came was amazing and helpful. That part, at least, was great. On the other hand, the staff had plenty of leftover snacks to munch on.

I can’t say that I’m deterred. I feel this is really important so I’m staying as optimistic as I can and gathering intell from parents wherever it’s offered. The family who attended gave me some wonderful ideas to discuss with my supervisory, some of which were as follows:

Themed Social Nights. Advertise a particular time in the evening when the children can come play games or do an activity (like learning about coding).

Longer science programs. Sometimes thirty minutes isn’t enough to justify coming out and sacrificing school time. Also, animals and technology are attractive.

Personal shopping. Many people have expressed how they would like to have book bags put together for them depending on what they’re studying. I know that our library doesn’t want to pursue this right now, but I think I can certainly commit more time to helping them select items and maybe even make a display for them if I know what they need.

And so continues my (so far) five month saga in trying to garner more feedback and participation from our rather large homeschool community. Next, I’ll be trying to create partnerships with a couple of other organizations as w

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