Ideas to Make Your Library Shine

Sharing ideas from around the system & around the country, on programming, fundraising, grants, free stuff, and more.
Brought to you by the Winnefox Library System.

10 Success Stories You May Have Missed in July

Here are great ideas and good news from around the Winnefox Library System:

⇒ The Pine River Library of Leon-Saxeville had a full-page article about their new StoryWalk in the July 8th issue of the Central Wisconsin Resorter. The StoryWalk project has spread to 47 states, and the Pine River Library StoryWalk project is the first in Waushara County. Library director Collette collaborated with the Waushara County Parks department to choose a park and locate an appropriate trail. "Board member Gary Sorenson designed the book page frames, while board member and Wild Rose Elementary Principal Matt Wilbert got the Wild Rose High School technical education department to make them. High school senior Robbie Jansen dedicated himself to the project, making all of the book page frames, with some small “tweeks” from Sorenson to make sure the book pages would stay secure in the frames. 'We got funding to purchase the wood and metal stakes from the Waushara Prevention CouncilHealthy Communities/Healthy Youth and from some private donors, said Ross."

⇒ The Friends of the Winneconne Public Library partnered with local microbrewery Bare Bones Brewery to serve two kinds of craft beer as a library fundraiser at the Artisan Fair during Winneconne's Sovereign State Days. This partnership got great coverage in the July 12, 2016 issue of Women magazine (pp. 32-33.)

⇒ The 8th Annual Taste of Wautoma raised $8,327.50 for the Wautoma Public Library. Fourteen local restaurants and grocery stores donated food, 34 local businesses donated items to the silent auction, and 11 local businesses made monetary donations. Tickets sold for $25 each, and each ticket-holder could sample food from the participating restaurants and bid on items at the silent auction. "The proceeds from ticket sales and the silent auction will be applied on the loan that paid for the library 2009 remodeling."

⇒ Every Friday morning this summer is Fresh Fridays! Gardening at the Ripon Public Library, at which the public is invited to achieve health and fitness goals (a.k.a. weeding) while helping to help raise & harvest wholesome, free, organic veggies.

⇒ New in the Children's Room at Menasha Public Library: Grab n' Go Craft Kits. "Everything you need for a simple craft all tucked in a bag ready to check out."

⇒ The Neenah Public Library is partnering with Heid Music to offer ukuleles for checkout. The ukes have a 4-week loan period, and a hold can be placed on them in the shared catalog. The ukulele kits put together by Heid Music include a Kala soprano ukulele, a gig bag, an electronic tuner, and an instruction booklet with access to online learning tools. The Neenah Public Library/Heid Music Ukulele Collection launch will kick off at the Neenah Downtown Farmers’ Market on July 30th. The event will include a performance by the advanced members of the Green Bay Ukulele Club, an open jam session/workshop at the Library, and Heid Music will have a variety of ukuleles in different sizes on hand for attendees to try on for size. And this fall, the library will offer a weekly Saturday morning open jam session for uke players at all levels, and a weekly group class for beginning students of any age.

⇒ Montello Public Library is offering the ABCmouse educational website for in-library use. ABCmouse's "goal is to help children build a strong foundation for future academic success by providing a comprehensive and engaging online curriculum to greatly assist early learners to succeed in pre-k, kindergarten, and early elementary school programs. is subscription-based, with no advertising, pop-up ads, or links to other sites. Children can learn and explore with their parents, or on their own (depending on age and ability), in a safe and secure online educational environment."

⇒ A "battle" was fought between directors of the Patterson Memorial Library and the Wautoma Public Library, to see who would get the most dunks in the Wild Rose Days dunk tank.

⇒ Oshkosh Public Library joined the Pokémon Go craze, and their first Pokémon Battle Party brought in 60 people. "As part of the game, the library is a PokéStop and a gym - both of which draw people to our location."  The library also participated in a Pokémon Go Scavenger Hunt held in downtown Oshkosh: "We are promoting our free Wi-Fi, we’ll provide charging stations for players’ phones, set lures, and offer a special task for players to complete to earn a ticket for a Downtown prize drawing." The scavenger hunt ran from 2 to 6pm, with an all-ages After Party at the Grand Opera House from 6 to 8pm.

⇒ Fond du Lac Public Library's new Idea Studio had its grand opening on July 23rd; it's a makerspace that's "a permanent do-it-yourself zone where people can gather to create, invent and learn. It includes work tables, equipment to use, display cases, a projector and screen, a demonstration kitchen and a digital recording studio. It will have space for DIY programs. New equipment is being added all the time."

Image credit: Friends of the Winneconne Public Library's photo on Facebook

Fresh-eyed Perceptions of the New Employee

When your library hires a new staff member, you can use this as an opportunity to gain their perspective on your library and its services.  They may notice the things you've gotten used to, like tattered signs, policies that are restrictive or out of date, or a workflow that could be streamlined.

Read 10 Questions to Ask Every New Employee by Peter Bromberg to get ideas for things you could ask of your new hires; their perceptions of your library may prove helpful to improve the inside & outside of the library and customer service.

"For a short period of time our new employees can literally see things that we can't see -- and that short period is, unfortunately, the same period of time when they are most likely to keep their mouths shut as they try to get the lay of the land and not accidentally offend their new coworkers."

Image source: Xray Specs by roberlan via Deviant Art (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US)


Well-Attended Adult Programs

Over at the ALA Think Tank Facebook group, members have been sharing their library's most well-attended adult programs.  Maybe you'll see something in the list below that your patrons would love to attend at your library:

  • How to start a small business, Pet Health, Motorcycle Safety, Aromatherapy, Cleaning without Chemicals ...
  • We once had a "psychic medium" who was so popular we couldn't fit everyone in the library, we ended up having to rent a tent, causing us to grossly overspend on our program budget. We're not planning on doing that again, but... could be worth a try.
  • Homebrewing, decluttering, and hypertufa were three of my biggest successes
  • Anything game related, where they get to have fun. Oh and we just had a reptile expert come in for what was supposed to be a kid program but at least half the people were adults who just wanted to see cool animals up close.
  • Not just for adults, but we had a local Paranormal Research group come to the library. They even brought their equipment. That was popular (and they were free).
  • I had a Google re guy come out and teach people how to make the most of their Google apps. It was pretty well attended and very informative.
  • DIY Skin Care. Make stuff like foot soak, body scrub, lip balm, etc., from Pinterest recipes
  • Anything computer, especially: Windows 10; uploading photos; digital photo editing; securing your computer.
  • Cheese tasting. Whole Foods brought the cheese and educator for free!
  • I had a local folk dance group come demo and then teach the moves and then everyone danced together. English Country Dance is pretty easy for everyone to learn :-) They also had live music.
  • History/civil war stuff
  • We haven't held this program yet, but the sign up sheet has about triple the number of people who ever attend. It's called Book to Art Club.
  • Ladies Spa Night.
  • Sit and be fit. Chair exercises.
  • Local History! We used to have a department store (Hess's) that everyone in our community still loves and remembers fondly. We have had 2 programs on this and both have had insane attendance numbers!
  • I had a group of makeup artists come in and do a Halloween costume program - they are coming again this year and are adding a 3rd night were they will do a Face Off style program competing against each other!
  • Fairy garden workshops
  • Murder mystery night. and we put on a great May the Forth.
  • Harry Potter trivia night, held in a restaurant/bar. I didn't put it on, but you can bet I attended both times!
  • Crocheting upcycled grocery sacks.
  • We did a make your own bath bombs thing that was well attended.
  • Hunter education programs with dept. of natural resources.

Image source: Pixabay Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain


Free Webinars in August

ImagePlan to attend these free webinars; all you need is your computer & speakers or headphones (no microphone needed.) If you attend a live webinar, it may be counted as a Category B continuing education activity towards renewing librarian certification.

Webinars with a ★ are the ones I think you'll find most useful.


8 Success Stories You May Have Missed in June

Here are great ideas and good news from around the Winnefox Library System:

⇒ The Spillman Public Library in North Fond du Lac have Alice Tzakais and her art class for to thank for painting the windows of the library entrance with swimmers to go along with this year's SLP theme.

⇒ The Pine River Chicken BBQ & Library Pie Sale raised $500 for the Pine River Library of Leon-Saxeville. Community support for the event included volunteers donating home-baked pies, collaborating with Pine River Restoration to be part of their Chicken Barbeque Event, and Thrivent Financial having covered expenses.

⇒ A major landscaping project was completed at the Oshkosh Public Library, including new flowering trees and other plantings that will enhance the library grounds. "The city's Forestry Division removed dying and overgrown trees and shrubs that were winterdamaged and inappropriate for the site. The project was funded in part through a $10,000 grant from the Taking Root Fund and the Emil & Louise Marohn Family Memorial Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Additional support came from the Trust Funds for Library Excellence, a collection of charitable endowments created with donations made by community benefactors."

⇒ For every child who signs up for Menasha Public Library's SLP, "the Friends of the Menasha Library will donate 10 cents to Wisconsin Special Olympics. Also, if your school has the most Summer Reading Program sign-ups, your school is entered onto a plaque and your school gets to display that plaque during the coming school year!"

⇒ Brandon Public Library received shelving from a library in Hartford that moved, and used Facebook to ask for volunteers to help unload a semi truck packed with the shelves. The next day, so many volunteers showed up that "with the help from these people, an 'all day event' only took 2 hours!!"

⇒ Both Wautoma Public Library and Campbellsport Public Library received money to help support their Summer Library Programs: Wautoma received a $250 donation from Hometown ShopKo, and Campbellsport received a $200 grant from ShopKo.

⇒ Princeton Public Library invites people to sit on the bench or picnic table and enjoy their back yard, where one can use the library's Wi-Fi amidst beautiful flowers and plants that are provided by the Princeton Garden Club.

⇒ 75 Wisconsin libraries participated in Bike to the Library week. including 2 in Winnefox: Fond du Lac invited people to "pick up a bookmark with information on how to enter a drawing for special bike-related prizes." And the Neenah Public Library invited community members to Bike to the Library during the week of June 19th: "Show your bike helmet, a photo of you and your bike at the library, and be entered into a drawing for great prizes."

Image credit: Spillman Public Library's photo on Facebook

Weird Programs That Were Surprisingly Successful

In the Programming Librarian Interest Group on Facebook there was a recent thread where librarians shared "bizarre programs that have been surprisingly successful."  Here are some examples that were shared; want to try any?

  • "I did a Zombie Tea Party for the release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (the movie) We ate jelly candies shaped like brains, vanilla bean jelly beans to represent maggots, drank gunpowder tea, put on zombie makeup, had a book signing by zombie Jane Austen, and learned about zombie etiquette. We all had a blast, and got a terrific sugar high from all the candy."
  • "... we had a beach party in February. We wore summer clothes had a limbo stick and other summer games and served sandwiches and made tie dye shirts."
  • "I've been doing a giant butterfly party every January for several years now. January is depressing." Program goals, supplies, and details at Butterfly Celebration.
  • "I recently had a cat party. It went very well despite how silly it sounds. We watched youtube videos, made cat ears to wear, cat toys, colored and i had goldfish, swedish fish and cat cookies. The kids were in heaven. I had about 15 or so. It was so silly that the newspaper felt the NEED to cover it." Newspaper coverage of Napa County Library’s Cat Party: Ain't No Party Like a Cat Party. "The cat ears and the bookmarks i found on pinterest and they were pretty easy and inexpensive! I got 3 packs of headbands at the dollar store, bought black, brown, grey felt sheets and glue guns!"
  • "I was thinking of running a YouTube film festival, complete with red carpet. There are some great animated shorts online that the kids may enjoy but not be aware of. These are some I put together wandering the Web: YouTube Film Festival."
  • "I taught arm knitting! Most were intrigued and some gave up quickly, but the ones that stuck with it came back and helped me teach another class. I had 35 people show up to the first one age 4-70! Just me and yarn."
  • "Crazy Cat party- made cat masks, watched cat videos, made toys for cats, had milk and goldfish crackers. It had a pretty good turn out! We even had them dress in their best cat lady costume for prizes."
  • "On a whim at storytime one day I added a few drops of food coloring to some shaving cream and let the kids go nuts playing in it. I think it was probably their most favorite storytime, ever."
  • "I host a Hobbit 2nd breakfast on Hobbit Day (Sept. 22, I believe) at my academic library. Not very bizarre, as I just do food and tea, but the students seem to enjoy it. You could definitely add activities."
  • "A few years ago I had some people donate non-working computers and the kids and I took them apart while an IT person was on hand to explain what we were finding inside! It was so much fun and the kids each got to take home a piece of computer."
  • "Celebrated National Chicken Dance Day with a chicken craft, pecking for candy corn, and of course a dance through the children's section. Staff wore feather boas and yellow rubber gloves on our feet which then looked a lot like actual chicken feet. Silly fun."

Photo credit: Rapid City Public Library via the Libraries and Librarians group on Flickr [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)]


How to Handle Disruptive Teens

When teens in your library are behaving disruptively — anything from a group talking loudly or someone overtaking a program — are you at a loss for the best way to handle the situation?

Read Disruptive Teen Patrons: 7 Strategies to Regain Order, Authority, and Your Sanity, in which The 5 Minute Librarian shares tips that cover these situations:

  • Group too rowdy?
  • Teen breaking the rules?
  • Teens are ignoring you?
  • Issues between two teens?
  • Suspect it is a special needs issue?
  • Suggestions to avoid future behavioral problems
  • How to de-escalate any situation

Image credit: Enokson via the Libraries and Librarians group on Flickr [Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)]

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