WWWC19: Big Programs, Little Budget

[silence] [Jean] Good morning everyone, and welcome to the
seventh annual Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference. I am Jean Anderson, and I am
moderating the Small and Mighty track. Assisting me today is Leah Langby with
the IFLS Library System in Eau Claire, and we are so glad to have you here. Our
presenter for this session is Chelsea Price with the Meservey Public Library
in Iowa, and she will be discussing big programs, little budget. So Chelsea, when…
and one other thing, before I turn it over to Chelsea, if you have questions,
please use the questions panel to submit them. We will save them up at the end for
the end of the program. So Chelsea whenever you are ready, go ahead.
[Chelsea] Okay, hi everybody! As she said, my name is Chelsea Price. I
have been the director of the Meservey Library in Iowa, it’ll actually be four
years in March. But I guess you could say that libraries are kind of in my blood.
My mom was library director in my hometown for about 15 years, so I worked
with her throughout high school. And my grandma was a school library director
for, like, 40 years. And she actually just retired at age 80. So I’ve been
around libraries all my life. I feel very comfortable in this position. When I
started in March of 2015, we had been… the library had been without a director for
about six months, and so maybe they were a little desperate, but I had to
find my footing very quickly. I didn’t get any formal training, I was just kind
of thrown into the position, and had to kind of figure my own way. But I did,
and I have grown to love this. I am not a one-person library. I do have a library
assistant, even though we’re super small. But she does the day-to-day, but as you
know, if you are a small library as well, you’re often not just a library
director, you’re also a program director, you’re youth and teen director, you’re an
outreach librarian, you’re an accountant. Sometimes you have
to do your own IT. You are often a janitor, or sometimes even a babysitter.
So you wear many hats when you work in a small library, and that’s one of the
things that I have grown to love about this job. So I wanted to tell you a
little bit about Meservey before we get into the program. We have a population of
fewer than 250 people. So yes, very tiny. We’re about one and a half square miles,
our whole town. Very rural, lots of farmers. Our nearest school in our district
is about 20 minutes away. We used to have a school across the street, and that
closed in the 80s, so we haven’t had a school here for years.
There aren’t many young families in town. We don’t have a grocery store or any
real sources of entertainment nearby. We don’t have a gas station, we don’t have a
community center, we don’t even have a bank anymore. We’ve got a church, we’ve
got a post office, we have a bar, and we have my library. So the library has had
to kind of serve as the hub of the community. And I have found that we are
the only source of free entertainment. We’re the only source of free Wi-Fi in
town. We’re the town’s only meeting space. So it’s very important to me to offer
free entertainment to our town. 20% of Meservey lives in poverty. So again,
that’s why it’s so important to me to keep things free. We are open only 20
hours per week, and we’re just one giant room. We don’t have a separate meeting
space, we don’t have separate rooms for our children’s area, just one big room. As
I said before, we’re a two-person staff. I have a very small budget, as you can
probably imagine. I’m going to share with you our budget, including materials and
salary, is $26,000 a year. So as you can probably
imagine, I really have to use my imagination and get creative when it
comes to programming. Prior to last year, we actually hadn’t received an increase
from the city since the year 2000. So prices have, you know, changed since the
year 2000. Luckily I did get an increase last year, you’ll hear a little bit more
about that later. So because of my small budget, we can’t
afford to hire pricey performers, we don’t have a Friends group or anything,
so we really kind of depend on grants and donations for our larger programs.
Despite the budget restraints, we have managed to more than triple our program
attendance numbers in the past three years. That’s not to say all of my
programs are successful. They’re definitely not. I’ve had everywhere from
zero people to about 350 people. So it really varies. And I think in small towns
like this, our programming and our events are just as important, maybe even a
little more important, as our… as the materials we offer to the community. And
I have been able to pull off some of my best programs thanks to the generosity
and the support of my community. They’ve been really great at partnering with me
to kind of help alleviate some of the cost. So I wanted to get into the
budget-friendly program ideas. These are just programs that don’t
necessarily partner with the community. These are just really cheap, easy
programs I’ve had that went well. The Harry Potter party. This was a teen party,
and I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd, so to be honest with you, I kind of just wanted
to do it for myself. So I did a Harry Potter party for tweens and teens.
And basically, I just made this photobooth out of cardboard, you know, it
made for some pretty cute pictures for Facebook. I had been collecting
chopsticks from Chinese food restaurants for a couple of months, and I cleaned
them off, and the the kids used a hot glue gun to make little designs with the glue, and then we painted them like different shades
of brown and gold. And they made some pretty convincing Harry Potter wands. And
then we watched a movie, it was right about the time that the first Fantastic
Beasts movie came out. They watched that, and then we made slime with some stuff I
already had. Glue, contact solution, stuff like that. And we called it Potions class.
And so the only thing I really had to spend money on,
I bought the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. If you’re a Harry Potter fan,
you’ll know they’re those jelly beans that can taste like… grass and dirt
and vomit. And so they had a lot of fun doing, like, little jelly bean taste tests.
I think you can get a six pack of those on Amazon for about $10.50. So that’s
all it really cost me, and it was a really successful program for a teen
program. My Wrap & Yap Party came about a couple years ago because I was getting
tired of wrapping Christmas gifts alone in my house in front of the TV, and I
thought, hey, this would be more fun to do with a group of people. So I turned it
into an adult program. Basically, everybody kind of brought paper, ribbons,
and gift tags to share, and brought their own gifts to wrap. We served coffee and
some light refreshments, and we played Christmas music, and we just kind of sat
around, wrapped gifts and talked. And it was, it’s been a lot of fun. I think we’ve
averaged about 15 adults each time, over the years. Which, for us, that’s
very good for an adult program. And it’s really easy and simple to do.
The rock painting program, I’m sure you guys have heard of. It’s hiding rocks
around town for people to stumble across and then post them on Facebook. So basically, this was a family program. I contacted some farmers in town who had
big rocks from picking them up in the fields and stuff, so they
gave me a whole bunch of rocks. And I already had the paint. I just had
families come paint the rocks, and then we went on a walk to hide them around
town. And it was just kind of fun, getting to find those colorful rocks all around
town. And we kept some to decorate the outside of the library with. Just easy
and free. Giant board games, that’s another thing. There’s tons of ideas on
Pinterest. We’ve done giant Jenga and giant Memory. The Memory game is just
poster board, and printed out pictures. And the Jenga, I just collected some
12-pack soda boxes and wrapped them in paper. And the kids really loved it, and
it was super easy and free. And I know I’ve seen, like, giant Kerplunk, I’ve
seen giant Hungry Hungry Hippos, and those are just really easy and fun, and
they’re always a hit with the kids. Some programs will fail, and that’s okay. So
these are all programs that I tried to hold that did not work out for me. So the
one I want to talk about here is the Puppy Party. So I, as you can probably
tell from my little profile picture, I have a great love for dogs. I’m obsessed
with dogs. And so I always watched the Puppy Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday. I don’t
care about football, I want to watch that Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. And I
thought to myself, “well, if I like the Puppy Bowl,
then surely other people around here do too.” So I decided to have a Kids program
on Super Bowl Sunday, and I got all these cute decorations, I got dog bowls for the
snacks, and I got little treats that look like dog kibble and dog treats and stuff,
and then I had a really cute craft, I was so excited. And I turned the Puppy
Bowl on, we had it live streamed on our Smart TV, and nobody showed up.
Not one person. My husband was there, he was the only one. I was so disappointed,
because I was so excited for this program. And I guess there’s this thing
called pre-gaming that people do before the Super Bowl, that I didn’t take into
consideration. And so basically, my husband and I just kind of made a joke
out of it. We went through the program ourselves, basically, and we ate those
snacks, and we did the craft, and we took silly pictures of each other, and then
posted them on Facebook later, saying like, you know, “at least somebody had fun
at our program.” And our Facebook friends really got a kick out of it, and I think
it’s important to not take things too seriously. Everybody has programs
that don’t work out, and so it was just kind of fun to just make light of the
situation. And if you want to learn from my mistakes, don’t have a party on Super…
don’t have a program on Super Bowl Sunday. And I think it’s important to
keep track of why you think programs didn’t work. We keep them… I keep them in an
Excel spreadsheet. I keep track of my programs, how many people attended, if it
was bad, I say why I think it was bad. You can see the teacher one, that just was
not good timing. The teachers were very busy that time of
year, and it was just not a good time. And then the Donuts with Dad, Munchkins with
Mom, that was not well advertised. I usually post in the newspaper, I didn’t
for that one. And so yeah, there are often many reasons that your programs will
fail, and it’s rarely because nobody’s interested, whether it’s timing, whether
it’s weather issues or Super Bowl Sunday. There’s often reasons other than people
not being interested. So this part is going to be about my community
partnerships for programs that worked really well for me. So a police officer
or fire chief, as they are always very popular with kids, especially when they
bring their vehicles, they get to, you know, see the fire hose, they get to see
the sirens and the lights, and the kids always love that. And that’s
easy and cheap, and/or free. A therapy dog visit. We do… I am actually a pet sitter,
and so one of my clients has a couple of Shelties that are certified therapy
dogs, and they’re also… they do agility. And so she has come to do a visit, and
the kids will take turns reading to the dogs, and then she took us through some
of their agility coursework and their nose work. And it was a lot of fun, and
again, that was free. I have a really close relationship with our local humane
society, and we have had adoption events at our library. We also have had some
kids’ learning classes about… we’ve had someone come and educate about puppy
mills, we’ve had… this lady here talks about her work, she’s the executive
director of the Humane Society. She talks about how important it is to rescue. And
it’s just, we’ve also made cat toys, and a cat castle out of cardboard, and
then donated them to the local Humane Society. The kids just love… and anytime
you have an animal that they can be hands-on with, it’s always good with the
kids. Santa photos. We have done this
the past couple of years, and last year, I just took the photos with Santa myself. I
made my backdrop and everything. But this year, we actually had a new
photographer that was new to the area, and wanted to get the word out about her
business, so she actually volunteered to come and take the photos of the kids
with Santa herself. And that was really great, because it didn’t cost us anything,
and I got the word out about her photography business. We actually
borrowed the Santa suit from the Fire Department, happened to have one. And I kind
of bullied my husband into being Santa. So again, that was totally free. The only
thing I really bought was the snacks. I did, instead of making gingerbread
houses, which can be kind of messy and difficult for the younger kids, I bought
the cone-shaped, the triangle-shaped ice-cream cones, and turned them upside
down, and made him into Christmas trees. And the kids frosted them and put
different candies on them, and I found it was a lot easier and more convenient
than making gingerbread houses. And the parents loved the Santa photos. They
loved having the professional photographer there, and some people even
brought in their dogs to take photos with Santa. Last year, we did a floral pumpkin
workshop. I have a local florist that has been very generous with the library, so
she actually donated everything. She wouldn’t… I offered to write her a check,
she wouldn’t let me. And so this was an adult program. Basically, she just brought
a bunch of mini pumpkins, and we hollowed them out and put little glass candle
votives in the middle, and then she stuffed them with floral foam and helped
us arrange our little flowers in there, and then there were cute decorations
like glitter and spiders and skulls and stuff. And I think they turned out really
good, and that was one of our most successful adult programs that we’ve had. So the only thing the library paid for was coffee and some light snacks. And
we’re actually… I think we’re gonna work with her next year for Christmas. She
also does wreaths, so we’re gonna do some Christmas wreaths. Joint library concert.
This was for last summer’s summer reading program, when it was the Libraries Rock
theme. So I really wanted to have a concert. I had heard Macaroni Soup out of
Chicago, was a really great little kids duo, and they had some really great songs
and they’re interactive and stuff. So the problem was that Meservey does not have
the room to have a concert. We just… there’s no way it would have worked. But
the library about five minutes from us, in my hometown, they do have space for a
concert. So I contacted her, asked if she might be interested in doing a joint
concert, and she was. So this was really nice because, not only
do we have lots of space, but we also split the cost. So we got double the
amount of kids we normally would have, and it was half price for each of us. So
that really worked well. I think it’s important to remember that, even though
sometimes we think that our surrounding libraries might be kind of our
competition, like, “oh, why are those kids going to their Easter egg
hunt instead of mine?” You know what I mean? But I think it’s important to think
of them as your allies, and and try to partner up with them to do bigger and
better programs. The Back to School program is something we do every year. We
get a, I think it’s usually a $250 donation from our local bank to purchase
backpacks and school supplies, and then those are given away. We kind of do a
drawing and give them away for families who otherwise might not have been able
to afford to buy new school supplies for their kids that year. And so we buy those
and give those away, and then our local Casey’s donates three large pizzas, and they
just come in, eat some pizza, I think we have watched a movie in the past, and
then decorate the 10-cent notebooks with, like, washi tape and stickers and
markers. And we made bookmarks one year, and it’s just a really… it’s cheap for
the library because of Casey’s, and because of the bank. They’ve been so
generous with us. But it’s been a really nice program for us to have every year,
and the kids look forward to it. We’ve had some Zumba instructor visits, some
yoga instructor visits, and these are all, again, for free. And my mother-in-law is
actually a yoga instructor, so she’s done some kids yoga classes. Those are always
really easy. We have a pretty close partnership with a local nature center.
They come and they… often, they’ll accept donations,
but they don’t ask for a program fee or anything. And they do a really good job
at educational programs. This one, I believe, she was teaching them about water pollution. And they always bring hands-on activities, they
always bring a lot of visuals, sometimes they even bring animals with them. So
they are always a hit with the kids. Let’s see. The potato bar, the baked
potato bar fundraiser, we tried for the first time last year. We had it in that,
kind of that dead zone, where it’s between January and April, where
everybody’s kind of depressed because it’s so crappy outside. And they just
need something to do. So I partnered up with our local bar. She actually
donated these giant potatoes, and the foil wrappers. She donated them to us, and
she also donated the cheese for toppings. And I believe the ham for toppings. So
the library went out and purchased, I think we bought lemonade and coffee to
make, and then I bought some broccoli and some onions and some sour cream and some
other toppings. But then basically, my board members each baked two pans of
bars or cookies, and then everybody kind of helped bake the potatoes. They all
brought their own crock pots. So it was kind of a group effort. But it ended up
being super successful. I think we raised about $850 for… this was to be
raised for our Carnival, which I’ll talk about in a little bit. But $850, for our library for a fundraiser, is almost unheard of so. That
is a hit, and we’ll be having it again at the end of February. This is a painting
program we had for kids. So I’m sure you’ve all heard of the wine and
painting programs for adults. I had someone who does those contact me, and
asked me if I would want to partner with her to do one for kids.
And I was like, of course! So it was a sign-up program. I think we limited it at
twenty children, and it filled up very quickly. We borrowed tarps to put out, and
those were tables we already had. The girl brought all of her paint and
canvases, and I just reimbursed her for the supplies, which I think was about
$50. But that’s all… I had to pay her. She taught it for free.
And the kids really enjoyed it. This was a winter one, and you can see, the
snowman is kind of like posed in a… kind of a seductive pose. So you can
see that girl has written, “paint me like one of your french girls.” Which they had
to include, because I thought it was so funny. Yeah, but the kids really liked it.
So this is one of my biggest programs that I’ve ever had. And I don’t know, you
might have heard of the author Elizabeth Berg. She’s really great, I’ve been
obsessed with her writing since high school. And she was actually the keynote
speaker at this past year’s ARSL conference in Springfield. So basically, I
had been following her Facebook page since high school, and I saw that she was
doing a Midwest library tour, but she wasn’t doing any libraries in Iowa. I
think the closest was Rochester, Minnesota. And it looked like her
schedule was already finalized, so I decided to reach out to her for, you know,
a future library tour. And I just kind of told her a little bit about our little
library, and I said, you know, “if you’re ever in Iowa, we would love for you to
come make a visit.” And this was when I was at work, and about two minutes later,
no joke, the phone rang at the library, and it was Bill, who is Elizabeth’s
publicist. And he goes, “this is Elizabeth Berg’s publicist.” And I was like, “no it’s
not.” And it was! And he said, would you like to be our last visit on our library
tour? I was just sitting down to finalize the schedule when I got your email.
And I said yes, we would. For sure, but I want you to make sure Elizabeth knows,
I’m not joking about our library being tiny. You know, we’re 250 people. So I
figured, you know, she wouldn’t want to come to a library this size, but he said,
“oh no, those are her favorite libraries, are the little ones. The small
towns.” So the only thing that Elizabeth asked, she didn’t charge anything. The
only thing she asked was that we partner with the local Humane Society to have a
dog or two for adoption, which I was very happy to do. She asked for things to eat from… she asked for baked goods for people to eat. And she asked for
beautiful flowers. So I was able to partner with that same local florist
that did the pumpkin workshop. She made some beautiful arrangements. And I had
read somewhere that Elizabeth Berg loves corsages, so she made her a corsage, which she later gave, that adorable photo is of my niece giving her a hug, because
Elizabeth gave her her corsage before she left. I thought that was so cute. And
then I just kind of put the word out for local bakeries, that if they donated some
baked goods to this event, that I would put out some business cards of theirs. I
have no problem doing that. And I had tons of people want to donate
baked goods to the event. So the only thing I had to purchase was napkins,
plates, and drinks. Something to drink. And the Humane Society brought two dogs for
adoption, and yeah. It was the best, I think the best adult event I’ve ever had.
Elizabeth was really great, and she signed books at the end, and gave this
speech about her history with writing. And I advertised so much for
this event. I actually sent the flyer out to all of the libraries in my North
Central District in Iowa. And they were happy to advertise for me, so I had about
80 attendees, which, as you can imagine, our library was packed. It could not have
fit one more person. So I was very happy with that turnout.
And so the lesson you can take from this is just, never be afraid to ask. I never
would have thought that an author this big would want to come to my library, but
she did. Never be afraid to ask, because you don’t know what could happen. And we
got awesome feedback. The only thing is, now that I’ve had Elizabeth
Berg at my library, I’m kind of like, that was my peak, you know? Now there’s nowhere
to go but down, cuz I had my favorite author here. But it was really great, and
I’m not gonna say we’re friends, but we talk sometimes on Facebook. And
she remembered my name at the ARSL conference. So I’m just
gonna go ahead and say we’re friends now. This was our other big event. So last
summer, or it was winter of 2016. I had someone from the Fire Department come to
me, and we have an annual fireworks day. It’s usually the Saturday before the
fourth of July. And the Fire Department does the fireworks, and they do a
supper. And then we have a church that does a breakfast. But there’s a long gap
of time in between there where there’s just nothing for people to do. So someone
from the fire department came to the library to ask me if I would want to do
something in that gap of time. And I think she was expecting me to do, like, a
storytime or a craft for the kids. And I don’t know what I was thinking, but I
said, “oh, I want to do a carnival!” Which, I had no idea what I was getting myself
into. But basically, we’ve had this for the last two years, and it is a lot of
work. My advice, before you even start planning an event like this, is that you
have a lot of help. Ask for help. I had my board members and my family
members to help me, but when it came to the planning aspect of it, I mean, it was
all me. I was making all the phone calls, I was sending the emails, I was, you know,
figuring out what would be where. So I suggest you have a little more help than
I did. So basically, it was very important to me
to have this event be free, because if it was not free, I knew we would have
families who would not attend, if they had to pay for it. So everything was free.
The only thing I did was, my brother made this cute little elephant, and you could
put… I just put, you know, “this elephant wants money.” So they would drop coins and
bills down its trunk. The kids got a kick out of that. And then I put just a
donation bucket by the food. And that’s all I did. And the first year we did it,
we had, let’s see, I think we had about 300 people, which I mean, that’s bigger
than our entire town. So that was pretty good. And that was, we raised again, about
$850 with just that elephant and the donation
bucket. And then this past summer, we had 350 people, and we raised about $1,300. So that’s telling me that our town really needed an event
like this, and fortunately, but also kind of unfortunately for me, because it’s so
much work, this has kind of become the library’s signature event. So this is
something we’re going to be doing every year, and hopefully it’ll just continue
to go up in attendance and in donations. So a little bit about how we paid for it.
We rented inflatables, and I think we had about four pieces. And we… I just
asked, you know, “we don’t have a lot of money. Is there anything you can do for me… in terms of a discount?” And he gave it to
me for almost half price. So I only had to pay about $850 for the inflatables, which was a bargain. So just don’t be
afraid to ask for discounts. I have a… I had a free petting zoo with goats and
donkeys, and even a giant tortoise. And that was just a local farm that wanted
to help out. They didn’t charge me anything. I had donated hotdogs from a local
business, they donated 300 hotdogs. Did not ask penny.
Just because I asked. And then again, the local bar donated the soda and the chips.
I rented a snow cone machine for $30, and there was a donut truck that
volunteered to come out to sell donuts. And that was a big hit, even though
people had to pay for it. It wasn’t free, but it was free for the library. My brother
built a lot of carnival games. We had a ring toss, we had a lot… we had a lot of
carnival games. We had a Plinko, we had a Skee-Ball, he built this really cute
little photo booth stand that you see here. And then, he also built a water
balloon slingshot, which the kids got a lot… they loved it. And last summer
was extremely hot, so they appreciated that. I had a local… our school district’s
dance team volunteered to do face paint and temporary tattoos, and I just, for
prizes, I did give away some prizes, which I just collected throughout the year. If
I saw a really good deal, I would just pick it up. And we always get… we give
away one larger prize. One year it was a drone, and one year it was a… I think it
was a Kindle. And that, I just pick up usually on Black Friday, when it’s a
really good deal. Or Cyber Monday. And I also had a council member volunteer to
rent and drive a barrel train for the kids, like pulled by a tractor. So the
kids loved that. So the only thing that the library really had to pay for was
the inflatables, which was the priciest. The insurance, which was the second
priciest. The insurance was quite expensive, because of the petting zoo and
the barrel train. That’s what really jacked it up. Prizes, we paid for
the hot dog buns and the hot dog boats, and then I bought some other small
things like temporary tattoos, and the snow cone syrup. And with the bank
donation, we received a donation from our local bank, that usually also donates for
the school backpacks. They donated around $750, and then
with the fundraiser from the baked potato bar, which raised about $850, we were almost pretty much covered. So, and then with the
funds raised at the carnival, were able to pay mostly for next year’s carnival.
So it’s really worked out quite well, and I’ve never received such positive
feedback on a program. Just remember to ask for discounts and ask for help,
because it’s very easy to burn out with an event like this. Very easy. Let’s just
say, I spent a couple nights in a hotel by myself after this, because I needed… I
needed a break, and I needed to go to the spa. So basically, how I always try to
think of programs is, brainstorm the people you know who might have a unique
skill or talent. For example, my husband works in IT, and he has done not only all
of our updates on our computers and stuff for free, he has also done some
classes, like senior citizens, a lot of the time they want help using their
smartphones or their tablets. He has done little classes for them, and hasn’t
charged the library anything. I am friends with a local girl who is a
beautician, and she has done some manicure, like a nail art class. Think
outside the box. Would your local veterinarian want to come in and do a
program? Do you have a local genealogist expert that wants to come in and do
a family tree event? And also, look for those who
might have something to gain by coming to your library. For example, a small
business that wants to get the word out about their company, or a
photographer, like I said before, who wants to get more clients. Those are most
often the ones who will give you the best deal, or even come for free.
Something we’re doing soon, we’re doing a women’s self-defense class at the end of
the month. And that’s going to be free, because we’re partnering up with a local
women’s group. I also contacted a Hy-Vee dietitian. I didn’t realize that they did
this, but the Hy-Vee dietitians do classes and presentations, and she is
doing a Valentine’s Day cooking class in a couple of weeks. So we’ll find out how
that goes. And don’t forget that kids are often very happy to help, too.
I remember when I worked summer reading with my mom, we had the high
school shop class build… they built these little wooden cars, and then they donated
them to the library. And we had the kids paint them during summer reading, and
they didn’t charge us anything, so don’t forget about those high school kids.
Three things I’ve found that can make your programs are having visuals or
hands-on. If there’s animals, kids will always… families will always show up for
animals. Make it free, and have free food. I’ve found the only way that I can really
get teens into the door is if I have free food. I put… we’ve got a
rolling sign that I put in the middle of the sidewalk that says, “free food inside.”
And they come, they show up for that. Always send thank-you notes to
presenters, especially if they’ve charged nothing. Don’t forget to send a thank-you.
And I always like the Lime Creek Nature Center, who has partnered with us for free
multiple times. With my thank-you cards, I usually send a donation, or if they’ve…
it’s someone who’s presented with us multiple times for free, I’ll send them a
little gift card, just gets them to, you know, want to come back.
Advertising on a budget. I’ve found that video content is often the… it gets
the most people hooked, video. I’ve done book talk videos, unboxing videos. For
some reason, that’s a really big thing with kids. Like, so we just got a
big grant for the children’s area, and I’ve been filming unboxing videos
whenever we get in a shipment of new toys, or new books,
I do, like, unboxing videos. I don’t know, that’s I guess that’s a thing. This
picture is from a Thanksgiving video, basically I just did like a slide show
set music of “I’m thankful for libraries because…” and then I had them write in. Of course, those kids always put, “they have free Wi-Fi,” but you know, whatever gets them in the door. Ask local businesses to help you
advertise. I always post in our local post office, the Fire Department, and
at the local bar. We can post fliers. I’ve made magnets and I’ve made coasters. You
can make those for for pretty cheap on Vistaprint. And then, digital photo frames
at the circulation desk. I don’t know why people are more likely to pay attention
to a video screen rather than a flyer, but for some reason, they do. It gets
their attention. So we’ve done it on our Smart TV as well, you can get digital
photo frames for about $30 on Amazon, and just keep it at your Circulation desk
and have it do, like, a rotating slideshow of photos and program advertising. And
people pay more attention to it than they do flyers hung in the door. So
embedded librarianship. I’m going to go pretty quick because they only have
about 10 minutes left. Embedded librarianship. So basically,
when I first started, I wanted to find out, where is my community? Find out, and
then go there. You know, make friends with the owner, if it’s a business. Just really
kind of form relationships with the people in
your town. If your town is anything like Meservey, your patrons are probably
where mine are, which is at the local bar. So yeah, I’ve made friends with the owner,
I’ve established trust with them, and that’s turned out to be a really great
partnership, as I’ve said before. Join clubs and committees, if there are some.
Promote other local libraries, businesses, and events. I’ve read somewhere that
you’re supposed to do only 30% on your Facebook page. You’re only supposed to do
30% advertising for your library, and your events. And then the other 70% is
supposed to be either advertising for other things in your town, or engagement
posts, like, “oh, what are you reading today?” Or “what’s your favorite book?” Things like
that. Let’s see here… Develop a relationship with your local
newspaper. I think we forget that a lot of people who might come into the
library are not on Facebook. They don’t have social media, and so you
want to be in the paper as… pretty often, as well. People just don’t have
Facebook. And a lot of times, I’ve found when I forget to post in the paper, I don’t
get as much attendance. [silence] [Chelsea] Get out of the library. I think it’s easy to just stay
in your comfort zone, in your little bubble where you’re comfortable in the
library, but I think it’s so important to get out into your community and do some
outreach. Before I started at the library, there had never been any outreach
done at all. And now I’ve made a habit of visiting our schools, I have gone to some
summer events in our school district, I had gone, we have a local apple orchard or pumpkin patch, and I have done some storytimes there to help get kids in the
library. And don’t forget about things like daycares, nursing homes, farmers
markets, there’s so many things that you could do. And I think it’s
important to always be positive, because you are always being watched by someone,
if you’re in a small town like mine. Even when you’re off, in a small town, you
have to be on, because someone is watching. And if your town’s anything like
mine, they love to gossip. So you want them to be gossiping about you only in a good
way. Outreach. I talked about those opportunities, build a positive
relationship with the school staff teachers, their librarian, especially the
secretary. I’ve found if you have an in with the secretary, you can really open up
that door for lots of partnerships with the school. There’s a lot of opportunity
for future programming there, so you definitely want to get in the
schools. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, you know, just a half hour every
month at the school. It will make a difference. And it’s important to have
fun. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself when you’re doing outreach. I’ve
done it, I was very uncomfortable at first. You know, singing and dancing and
just being goofy, but the kids love it. And it makes people want to visit your
library in person. This is from a storytime, these photos, I did in the
classroom. And that, again, is my poor husband in a Santa suit.
The kids loved having Santa visit the classrooms. They loved it. We did a storytime, and then Santa came in and handed out candy canes. And although there was
one little boy who said to my husband, “that’s not a real beard.” And so, they
might have had him figured out, but they still had a good time with it.
City Council. Let’s see, I think I’m right about the five minute mark. So
I’m gonna rush through this. Always go to your City Council meetings, even if you
think it’s not important and it doesn’t involve the library, you need to go. It’s
just the best way to know what is going on in your town, and get to know the
council members. Personally invite your council members to programs and events.
Make them feel important, and always keep your interactions with them positive. And
when you’re asking for an increase in funding, don’t think about statistics. A
lot of times, people hear a bunch of numbers and they get overwhelmed. Think
about stories rather than statistics, like tell them about the boy who used to
stutter, and then he started your Reading with Rover program where he reads to the
dogs, and he stopped stuttering. You know, think about stories, because I think
I’ve got a quote later that people will… Let’s see, I think I have it. “People will
forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never
forget how you made them feel.” So when you’re asking for an increase from City
Council, or asking for donations from the local businesses,
try to make them feel something. Try to tug at their heartstrings, even when
you’re applying for grants. Make it a little bit personal, you know what I mean?
Let’s see. Getting donations and grants. Don’t rule out local businesses.
Casey’s, I have had luck with getting donations. Fairway, Aldi, Hy-Vee,
Walmart, these are all businesses that I’ve had luck getting donations from. And
make sure to recognize your donors. Send out Christmas cards, or have a donor
appreciation event, just to say thank you to the people who’ve made large donations to you. And I do think it’s important to try
and reach everyone, because a lot of people who have the ability to donate
actually aren’t library users at all. And so I think it’s important to get out
there, and don’t be afraid to ask for donations. And then some just general
money-saving tips: look for prizes at Dollar Tree, Goodwill, Target Dollar Spot,
and garage sales, especially Legos. Legos are super expensive, and you can find them
at garage sales if you look. I have replaced a lot of my summer reading
prizes with experience prizes instead. A lot of people, you know, parents don’t
love when their kids bring home those cheap little plastic toys you can
get on Oriental Trading. We’ve done some experience prices. We’ve done a
movie night, you can invite two of your friends to have a movie night at the
library, and pick whatever movie you want to watch. And we’ll pop popcorn. That’s
been a really popular prize. Also consider, if you are as tight, have as
tight of a budget as I do, you have a tough time paying for magazine
subscriptions. I’ve found a few survey sites where you can take quick surveys, and
earn points to get magazine subscriptions. Recycle Bank is one of
them that I use pretty often. Rewards Survey, and those can help you get free
magazine subscriptions. Don’t forget about other small libraries. And another
way we’ve gotten free advertising, our city lets us send out a small flyer for
future upcoming programs and events with our water bills. So that’s nice,
because they go out to everyone in the city. And our church bulletin. I get to
email my update to the pastor every week, and they type it up in their church
bulletin. So that’s really nice as well. And I think a lot of libraries do
overlook passive programming, because it’s not as flashy as
regular programming. But I think it’s great marketing.
It makes for great Facebook posts, and it can count in your programming numbers. So don’t leave out passive programming. We’ve just done some
interactive book displays. This one was a Valentine’s Day, what do you love about
your library? And they then we put those hearts up on a bulletin board, and those
always make for some really great photos and stuff. And these are just some
resources that I have had a lot of luck with, in getting good ideas for programs,
money saving ideas, some blogs, some webinars, a book. And I’m actually
blogging for Programming Librarian once a month, so you can also kind of
check in with Programming Librarian, with the ALA, and see my post there. And then
if you have any questions, there’s my email address. Feel free to email me
asking for resources or anything like that. Thank you guys so much for being
here! [Jean] Thank you Chelsea! That was
great. So much information, which is great! I had one question. You kind of went fast
over that outreach slide. Back up to that, it was before the quote, I think.
[Chelsea] Okay, yeah. I went right over that because I wanted to get to the quote. Okay, this one?
[Jean] I think so. I think that was the one. If not, Karen will let me know. In the meantime, I’ll ask you the questions. [Chelsea] Okay. I went past that one. [Jean] I think this is the one you went
past. Yes. So we’ve had a number of questions. So the first one is, she was
curious, Jaime was curious if you have people pre-register for programs, or if
they just show up? [Chelsea] With programs like the painting program, those are always sign
up, but other than that, we just show up. And I’ve had, like, I don’t have people
sign up for summer reading. It just has never worked. You know, people will
sign up and then not come, or people will show
up that aren’t signed up, and then I have to deal with that. So we just don’t do
sign ups. I usually just kind of wing it, you know? I over buy stuff, and then I
return it, if I need to return it. And then if I have too many people, I just
kind of wing it. [laughs] [Jean] The next question was from Patty, and she asks, “what program do you use to make your signs? Your flyers? They look
very nice, and are they easy to make?” [Chelsea] Thank you. Yes, I use Canva. It’s really,
really easy. It’s so easy, and you can make some really good ones. And they have layouts, so you can get some ideas from there, too. [Jean] Awesome, thank you. We’ll put a
link to that in the chat. Leah, if you could do that. The next question, I think Leah answered this one in the chat, was when your pumpkin
things… the mini pumpkins. And you had mentioned the votive holders, but you
didn’t have candles in there, it was just, you were using the votive holder with… okay. Yes, because she was wondering how they didn’t catch on fire. So, we misheard you.
[Chelsea] Just to holders to hold the floral foam. [Jean] Got it. Okay. And then Karen asks, “how do you limit? Do you limit the program for families who might not otherwise be able to purchase
school supplies?” So for that, I think that was the backpack program that she’s talking about. [Chelsea] No, we open it to
everyone. And to be honest with you, we kind of rig the drawing, because my
library, I mean, we know everybody in town. We know where people live, and we
kind of have an idea of which families could use it. So it might not be
the fairest of drawings, but they end up going out to the families who need it,
and that’s what I think is important. So… [Chelsea] Excellent, thank you. Oh, about your potato bar fundraiser, another… Sara said that they have a potato bar
fundraiser coming up in April, and she said it’s easy and fun to do. And I had
never heard of it, so thank you for sharing that.
Suzanne asks, “what did you charge for the potato bar per person?”
[Chelsea] We did not charge. I have found that if you have a free-will donation bucket, and just have a sign. If you just have a sign that says “free-will donation,” you know, “give what you can,”
people often give more than they would if there was a set ticket price. That’s what I’ve found, anyway. [Jean] Ah, okay. Excellent. And then, Oh, I think you answered the
question about insurance. She was asking about the insurance for the inflatables.
[Chelsea] Yeah, the inflatables were covered under their own insurance. So we just had to do
the petting zoo and the barrel train insurance. [Jean] Okay. Got it. This question is from Candy. She says, “is there a danger of being so good
at finding free/discounted help with programming that your city will decide
that you don’t need a budget increase, or will even decrease your budget?”
[Chelsea] I hope not! I haven’t run into that, because with the success I’ve had doing these free or
cheap programs, I’ve been having even more programs, just in number. So we
haven’t really been spending less, because I’ve been having more and more
programs, because more people are interested. So I think this makes the
City Council even more supportive of the library. [Jean] That’s great, and I hope that
continues. You said you got an increase this year, right? You just got an increase?
[Chelsea] Last year, yes, that’s another thing I forgot to mention, is that when
you’re asking for an increase, you can make an infographic pretty easily. I
think I made it on Canva, as well. That has a lot of graphs, and things that are
pleasing to the eye. And the council members really seemed to appreciate that.
So that they can see, you know, how much we’ve increased without having to
read a bunch of numbers. [Jean] Candy says, “how
you do so much with so few hours? You must be doing a lot of volunteer hours for the library.”
[Chelsea] We’re open 20 hours a week, so yes. I do the most when the library is
closed. So basically, I am allowed to get paid for only up to 20 hours a week.
That’s all that’s in our budget. So my library assistant takes most of the open
hours, to be honest with you. I am there for one full day and one half day, but
other than that, I’m there when we’re closed, or I’m working from home, so that
I can be doing things like paperwork, reorganizing the books, you know. Stuff
like that. I get a lot more work done when the library is closed. But
yes, I would say I probably put in more volunteer hours than I should.
[Jean] I think that’s, yes, I think we all do that, yes. Yes. But it’s good that you’re
able to maximize your time, that you can work it so that you’re doing a lot
of this work while you’re getting paid, but not while the library’s open. So
that is great. Let me just see if I missed any. Let’s see. Oh,
Karen asks, “is your presentation representative of one year, or is this
over many years?” [Chelsea] This is over the four years that I’ve been there.
[Jean] So it’s a combo, it’s a whole… yes. Okay. And then Carla says, “your program ideas are really helpful. We
are a one-room library, also in a village of 1,300 people. How do you keep up with
your county library system… with everything else that you do?” Do you
have county library systems? [Chelsea] No, we don’t do that in Iowa. [Jean] Okay. So, but you do a lot of
collaboration with the people in your, you said in your library district?
How does that…? [Chelsea] We, I mean, I just have the one library that I’ve worked with before,
that’s only about five minutes away. Other than that, you know, we’ll do
interlibrary loans and stuff like that, but we really aren’t in a whole lot
of contact with other libraries. [Jean] Okay. Okay, interesting. I don’t know how Iowa works as well, with libraries. So if there are any other
questions, we have just a couple minutes left. And Chelsea, if you want, you can go
back to your end of your slides, if you’d like, so your contact information is up
there. And for those of you who are asking, those slides and the recording
will be available by tomorrow, up on the Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference.
Okay. Let’s see. Lynette says, “about donations. Instead of charging people,
give more. I haven’t charged fines for years. I have a… she has it in quotes,
“guilt pig” on the desk, that says feed me. Get rid of the nagging, guilty feeling when
returning items late. We get way more that way than charging people, you know,
five and ten dollars on it.” [Chelsea] That is great! Before I got there, we charged fines as
well, and I stopped. We don’t charge fines at all.
Sometimes people give, yeah, because they feel bad. But we don’t charge fines,
because people will just stop coming in if they owe something. We’ve got a little, I
have a little machine that’s like a dog burying a bone, and you give the dog
coins, and he, it’s really cute. And so that’s what people give when they
give little donations and stuff. [Jean] That is great. So thank you. I’m not seeing any other
questions come in, and we’re just about at 11:30, so we will wrap this up. So
thank you so much Chelsea, for a great session. And as I mentioned, yeah thank
you. As I mentioned, the session recording and the slides will be posted on the
conference website by tomorrow. And our next session in this track is with Maryann Mori, and begins at noon. And we hope to see you there. If not, we hope you have
a great rest of your day. Thank you so much!

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