Monday, April 2, 2012

Episode 10: Pursuing Programming

Programming is an essential daily activity throughout our system.  From storytimes to crafts, business seminars to gardening tips, poetry readings to gaming tournaments; there is something for everyone at every age happening at the library.

(c) Jupiter Images
We all want to reach for the stars and come up with the most stellar idea for programs, but sometimes we fall into the black hole of planning the same types of programs over and over again. Tried and true programs do draw large crowds and consistent audience, but sometimes you may need just that little bit of rocket fuel to discover whole new worlds of programming options.

But don’t worry,  you’re not alone in the cosmos when it comes to planning innovative activities. Harris County provides many resources to help with your programming needs.  We can help with not only the ideas for programs, but also with ways to help market and publicize your events to the public.

Some of these you may already be aware of. The HCPL storytime database is perfect for those times when you may be asked to cover a stortyime at the last minute. Book, rhymes and crafts are already pulled together for you to present the perfect program. Or if you are trying to come up with a program on a specific date and want to find out what wacky event might be happening, you can always turn to the latest edition of Chase’s Calendar of Events or the Dmarie Time Capsule.

...3,2,1 On to the Quest!

Submit your answers to the questions using the form on Harriet. A good practice is to first type your answers into a Word document. When you are finished, Copy/Paste your answers into the form. This may save you from losing your work. Be sure to submit after you have entered all your answers into the form.
  1. Find an event that is happening on your birthday using Chase's or the Dmarie Time Capsule. (Also list Month and Day of your birthday)
How about using technology for a program (and I mean in addition to presenting a class on how to open an email account)? You can get an author to speak to your book club for little to no cost to you.  Skype is a wonderful tool to help with this and below are several links to authors/illustrators who will speak to your group through Skype:
Or contact your favorite author directly and ask.
  1. Name an author you would like to host at your library who is available on the the Skype Author Network.
How about thinking completely outside the box? Do you have a special hobby or interest?  Do you keep up with a particular blog that has nothing to do with libraries?  Then keep your eyes (and your mind) open for unique opportunities for library programming.  For example, a recent story on a non-library blog asked the question about the future of libraries and how they will have to change.  One suggestion was to create  a technology working space to allow people to collaborate on physical objects instead of just intellectual ideas. A public library took this idea to heart and has started to develop their own FAB LAB (a Fabrication Laboratory) in their library space loaded with the gear and technology to allow the public to experiment with their ideas and to help create the next big thing. 

All you have to do is pay attention to the world around you and you will see that there are programming ideas for your library everywhere.

Once you have a stellar program in the works, you must now shout it out to the far reaches of the galaxies or at least your local community.  Harriet provides many tips and techniques as well as examples on promotional material including press releases, brochures, bookmarks and flyers. All you have to do is to jet on over to Harriet and click on the “Administration” link under the Menu on the left hand side and then click on “Marketing and Programming”. There you will find many resources to help you with your marketing needs including the Guidelines for Print Materials, ideas for different types of publications, our system programming requirements, and the form to request pre-designed printed materials.
  1. What is the ADA statement that is required on all printed materials from HCPL?
  2. What event must all libraries present an adult, children’s and teen program for in May?
If you are designing your own publicity materials then HCPL has a subscription to for all your library clipart needs.  Ask your branch librarian for your branch log-in and you have access to millions of illustrations and photos to use in your publicity materials [Admin staff please ask Grace or Linda for the password].

Want a way to promote your program immediately for no cost? Then utilize the events calendar, your branch blog or your branch social media account to publicize your program at a moment’s notice.

And don’t forget about during and after the program as well. Take pictures and post them to the HCPL Flickr account. Information on how to upload and post photos can be found here. Showing your community how great your programs are will definitely get them coming in from across the universe to attend your next program.

Take a spin around to check out these resources to discover more about how to create and promote out of this world programs.
  1. Utilizing the template found on Harriet (or your own design) create an 8.5" x 11" flyer for a program that this module has inspired you to have at your library.  Include an image from and instead of the copyright information under the image, list the image number provided by Create an email message, attach your flier, and send it to  Not sure how to do that?  Visit the Email Mountains to find out.
If you have submitted all the correct answers to accomplish this mission, you will receive the Programming Space Vehicle to add to your command. This will let you dig through our cramped but coveted Cargo Hold for a chance at a great prize. Complete The Fleet by earning all ten vehicles, and you will also receive ten Intergalactic Training Credits. 

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