“A great library doesn’t have to be big or beautiful. It doesn’t have to have the best facilities or the most efficient staff or the most users. A great library provides. It is enmeshed in the life of a community in a way that makes it indispensable. A great library is one nobody notices because it is always there, and always has what people need.”
― Vicki Myron, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

How do you capture the attention of your patrons? How do you engage with them in a way that makes a lasting, indelible impression on their hearts? As I stated in my previous two posts, it is not always possible to talk with every patron that walks into to the library, so it is vital that we use every tool at our disposal to make that impact. Bright, colorful art and creative displays are a couple of methods, and our third tool is passive programming.

All of our libraries execute programs. Summer Reading, story times, book clubs – these are all great examples of active programs. Passive programming involves setting up a display or activity that kids, teens, or adults can interact with on their own or with very minimal assistance from a library staff member. We recently started a new passive program at our library that the children are going crazy for – “Find the Cat in the Stacks” — to celebrate Read Across America. We purchased an articulated Cat in the Hat figurine online, and each Monday, our Children’s programmer hides it in a new place. Children then search for it and write down its location on a piece of paper along with their name and phone number and place it in a raffle jar. We draw a winner each week and that child gets a Dr. Seuss book.
cat in the stacks sign

We also host a Saturday Crafternoon once a month, in which kids are invited to make crafts with a certain theme like penguins or the circus. The supplies and examples are set up ahead of time so that children may come in and create on their own. A staff member is always ready and willing to assist if needed, but the program is designed to be independent. In the past, we’ve had coloring pages available for kids to color, covered a table in butcher paper for them to doodle on, and supplied coloring books.

We’ve had displays inviting patrons to vote on whether they liked a movie or book better, to fill out an Oscar Ballot, and to join us in a 2015 Reading Challenge: http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-Challenge-2015-36071458

Future plans involve branching out into passive Readers Advisory with an emphasis on our Young Adult area. One of our Library Assistants is currently serving on the Georgia Peach Committee, and she has donated dozens and dozens of books to this section. Inspired by this article:
http://wrappedupinbooks.org/2013/12/16/passive-readers-advisory-for-teens-in-the-library/, we hope to implement a similar binder and some shelf talkers to draw attention to all of the great books in this area!

What do you do in your libraries? Let me know! boutwater@prlib.org