25 April 2013

@ The Library: The Space and Time (Programming) Continuum

I love my library, but when it comes to space, it is definitely at a premium. The library was built in the late 1800s, and now serves a community of over 16,000. We currently have two floors (adult & youth), a shared office/staff room, and no meeting rooms. So, when it is time to schedule programs, you can see  that shoehorns and spreadsheets come into play.

When I came to the library, programs were held during the open evening hours, which meant shifting the reading tables and chairs, setting up seating or a screen in front of the DVD collection, and small walking areas to get to the circulation desk and the public computers. Attendance ranges from a couple to a couple dozen, for the most part.

I began "After Hours" programming for the library on Thursdays. We close at 6 PM, so that meant we didn't have to worry about the public wandering around during the sessions, and those programs also stayed pretty small, so that was fine.

Then, this happened...




This would be about half of the 55 people that came to a birding program last week. It happened on a Wednesday because the group booked it almost a year ahead of time and I did not think the response would be quite this large.  The circulation desk (on the far right) was almost completely blocked, and there wasn't enough seating so there are people behind where this picture was taken who are standing in the stacks.

It was wonderful and kind of awful at the same time.

I want this kind of response for programming, for sure. This one was sponsored by a local group, so I know much of the attendance was driven by them. I would welcome them back next year - during a closed time at the library. I am working harder at publicity, but it is still grinding my wheels a little bit. Plus space set-up and then patrons who come during after hours wanting circulation staff available. It seems that there is no perfect solution.

What do other libraries do with space and time issues?