With more than 500 public libraries in the state, Iowans have many options when seeking library services. These libraries are often a hub in the community where citizens gather, whether they are looking to check out books or participate in a program. Providing citizens access to library services is a key component to local government, and city officials should annually review how they are offering this service.
Libraries have historically played a part in helping young children learn to read and enjoy literature. Many libraries have programs that are designed for preschool aged children that include story time and incorporate early literacy strategies. Toddler story times are another popular children’s program and feature a variety of activities such as singing and fingerplays. The Iowa Department of Education’s Every Child Reads program can be used to train child care givers, preschool teachers and librarians in early literacy strategies that could be implemented to get children ready to learn as they enter school.
Summer reading programs are also prevalent and offer something for children while school is out. The State Library of Iowa’s Collaborative Summer Library Program is a consortium of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials for children at the lowest cost possible for their public libraries. The program helps provide posters, reading logs, bookmarks, certificates and a variety of reading incentives at significant savings.
Libraries offer a wide variety of programming that is designed for adults. Programs may include discussion meetings to talk about favorite books and authors or literature within a certain genre, culture or ethnicity. Other programs incorporate a learning component and provide participants a how-to course on a particular topic. Some libraries also provide adult literacy programs to assist adults in improving their reading skills.
Other Programming Ideas
Hosting an author is a great way for writers and their fans to enjoy a book together. These programs often become events for the library and a chance to attract an audience that might not use the library frequently. Traveling exhibitions have also been successful. Displaying books and other items on a particular topic of interest can attract citizens and increase awareness of library services. These types of programs also provide an opportunity for neighboring libraries to work together and share ideas on successful programming.
In order to gain a strong and devoted library audience, cities should promote the various services, programs and activities that their public library offers. Using different ways to alert citizens of these opportunities is necessary to attract new library users. Posting updates and announcements in the newspaper or on the city’s Web site is a good first step in promoting library events.