THAT'S What I'm Talkin' About!!

Apologies for this post showing up again. My blog is, rightly or wrongly, where I archive some of the good stuff we do. A week ago I accidently deleted the following post while dinking around with my ipad. I was able to back key it and have it stay for long enough to write out the post before it disappeared. Jeez. I am so NOT a digital native!

Here it is again from my badly scribbled transcription. I discovered that though I don't keyboard well, without constant practice, I write REALLY badly. Here goes anyway:

Throughout this week, our business manager put together our circ and program stats for our state's annual report. Today, she reported out the final piece.

Holy smokies, my friends, be sure to sit down because I am about to blow you away.
  • We offered 39% fewer traditional children's programs in 2011 than in 2010.
  • We had 32% fewer attendees at these programs
  • Our circulation of children's materials increased 10% (usual increase is 2-3% annually)
  • Our circulation of children's materials increased 15%!!!

What!?!?!?!?!  How'd that happen?!?!?!?!?

We didn't institute a big weeding project; we struggled with a rather messy transition to a new ILS that often had patrons- and staff - frustrated and we cut the number of programs.

I think it is due to three initiaitives we introduced this year. Each of these encouraged check-outs and return visits to the library and are part of our "stealth" or passive programs:

Thinking outside the box and looking for ways to stretch our staff and resources - but still encourage our families to return and use our services frequently - made the difference.  I love it when statistics back up the leaps of faith that we made in changing services.

To find samples of our materials, check out our Winding Rivers Library System Youth website and scroll down towards the bottom of the page!

Image: 'What????'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/33501059@N02/4059486159


  1. Wow, Marge, that's so amazing! I've been so inspired by your recent initiatives ever since you talked about early lit environments at WLA 2010. Man, do I wish I were more than one person so I could DO more of this stuff!

  2. Hi Anna - be sure to check out PDFs that you can use to create your own magic at our library system site: http://www.wrlsweb.org/member-services/youth-services/

  3. Great results! I also offered fewer programs last year and had higher checkout numbers. At the same time, I feel like I put more effort into making the programs we did have higher-quality.

    We also did more programs for school age kids instead of just preschoolers. I finished a big J fiction weeding project which is paying off hugely in checkouts for us. Thank goodness!

    1. Anne, you are rocking it out. I think people have a real fear of decreasing programs but don't see that if you create quality programs and initiatives for all ages, you don't have constantly *do* programs. People will come in and use your library because you help them discover what's inside!

  4. Congratulations! Great to read such wonderful news.

    Here's an extra idea. Could it be that the decision-makers are actually doing kids a favour by closing libraries and slashing budgets? Perhaps people are beginning to realize at last what gold our libraries are and so are encouraging their kids to use them before they disappear.

    1. Funders and decision makers don't always see the value of libraries or what we are doing. It takes constant advocacy. We had a retreat with our board of trustees today and I was a little discouraged that our amazing results didn't result in support for more space for our cramped children's services area when we move into unoccupied museum space attached to our building in two years. Looks like I have to gear up for a battle.

  5. We just had a big staff meeting and decided to cut back on programs - we're just doing too much and all our staff is exhausted. I'm hoping to use some of your ideas to increase our circulation and hopefully our board will approve. Of course, we first have to finish convincing them that the circulation staff should NOT be doing all our fundraising...