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Ideas for Libraries

Updated on February 6, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

A librarian through and through, Virginia Allain writes about book topics and information for library users and librarians.

A traditional library dating back to the 1800s.
A traditional library dating back to the 1800s. | Source

Dozens of Ideas to Use in a Library: Public Relations, Décor, Staffing, and Other Topics

I worked in public libraries in Ohio, Maryland and Texas for thirty years. Whenever I traveled, I liked stopping in to see local libraries and seeing what good ideas I could pick up. I'll share with you some of the ones that worked for me and others that sound great, but I didn't get around to testing them out myself.

I'd love for librarians to contribute their own great ideas to this webpage as well. If you try out some of the one provided here, give some feedback on how it worked in your situation.

Starting out this webpage will fall a little short of really having hundreds of ideas, but I'll keep adding to it. Check back now and then to see what I've added!

Ideas You Can Use from the ALA 2013 Library of the Year - A branch of the Howard County Public Library (Ellicott City)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
What makes a "library of the year?" Dramatic architecture is one part.Add some public art.Be sure to have the latest technology (automatic book check-in is demonstrated here).Include a cafe where people can read and have a snack.Feature ecological and thrifty fixtures like this public toilet with a light or heavy flush.Keep your patrons informed with a screen like this.Keep book displays freshHave plenty of public computers.Plan events to keep patrons returning. I happened to visit on the day of summer reading sign up. What a crowd.
What makes a "library of the year?" Dramatic architecture is one part.
What makes a "library of the year?" Dramatic architecture is one part.
Add some public art.
Add some public art.
Be sure to have the latest technology (automatic book check-in is demonstrated here).
Be sure to have the latest technology (automatic book check-in is demonstrated here).
Include a cafe where people can read and have a snack.
Include a cafe where people can read and have a snack.
Feature ecological and thrifty fixtures like this public toilet with a light or heavy flush.
Feature ecological and thrifty fixtures like this public toilet with a light or heavy flush.
Keep your patrons informed with a screen like this.
Keep your patrons informed with a screen like this.
Keep book displays fresh
Keep book displays fresh
Have plenty of public computers.
Have plenty of public computers.
Plan events to keep patrons returning. I happened to visit on the day of summer reading sign up. What a crowd.
Plan events to keep patrons returning. I happened to visit on the day of summer reading sign up. What a crowd.

Make the Lobby at the Library an Attention Getter

  • If you get a lot of tourist traffic at your library, put up a map on a bulletin board in the lobby during the peak visitor season. Add a sign saying ADD A PIN TO THE MAP TO SHOW WHERE YOU ARE FROM. Make some pins with colored heads available to use with the map. Locals and visitors alike will find it fascinating seeing where everyone comes from.
  • In February, place a stack of red paper hearts in the lobby and some ink pens. Place a sign on the wall, I LOVE MY LIBRARY BECAUSE... Have tape available for people to post their reason for loving the library on the wall. Put up a few to get it started.

    Follow up with a press release commenting on some of the postings and enthusing about how much the community loves the library.


Innovation Grants

Nifty Program Ideas - That Impressed Me

  • The Goodall Memorial Library in Sanford, Maine, held a Technology Petting Zoo. The hour and a half program displayed a variety of devices like a Nook e-reader, a Kindle Fire, and Apple iPad Mini, and a Google Nexus tablet. Each had instructions with it and participants could try them out and ask questions.

    The program required signing up in advance.

  • The Louisville Public Library (KY) held a How-To Festival. The all-day event had multiple sessions going on in different locations in the library and some in tents on the lawn. Most were 45 minutes in length. This would be quite a project to get everyone booked but helps establish the library as an information center for the community.

    You could choose between how to make cotton candy or how to start a small business. Look at some of the other topics offered below:

    How to do simple home repairs

    How to hula hoop your way to fitness

    How get around town using TARC

    How to make ice cream in a bag

    How to sleep better: tips for getting a good night’s sleep

    How to dine and dress Downton Abbey-style

    How to make baklava

    How to grow and appreciate heirloom tomatoes

    How to make homemade chicken and dumplings

    How to find and plan day hikes in and around Louisville

    How to select, prepare, and start easy flower and vegetable seeds and care for seedlings

    How to publish your own book

More to Come

Check back. This webpage will grow and change with lots more information yet to come.

Knowledge is free at the library. Just bring your own container.

- author unknown

Book a Librarian

The Osceola County Public Library system in Central Florida has this service. You can book a time for personalized one-on-one instruction by a librarian. Maybe your kids have a new electronic gadget that they can't figure out. Perhaps you want to know how to use the Kindle you received for Christmas. Whatever...

Schedule a time with the library to get a free 30-minute session.

This is a terrific idea for larger libraries who have staff with a wide range of capabilities and technical know-how.

Thinking of a Winter Reading Program for Adults? - Here's how one works

PS - that's my niece giving the book review. Librarians run in the family.

© 2010 Virginia Allain

Share Your Library Idea Here or Just Let Us Know You Stopped By

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    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I enjoy going to the library that is only a bout a 4-5 block walk away. They are always coming up with different ideas to improve the experience. :)

    • ChrissLJ profile image

      ChrissLJ 

      6 years ago

      We do a regional 6 Word Memoir program every year. We ask patrons to submit their 6 word memoirs at each of the branches and on our webpage. We then put them on PowerPoint on a computer and play it on a constant loop as well as posting them on our website. It's amazing how creative people can get and how many people of all ages participate.

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