[Libs-Or] Marketing drop-in programs

Jane Scheppke JScheppke at crooklib.org
Tue Oct 25 12:42:48 PDT 2016

Howdy, great brain:

Does anyone out there have any tips for promoting or structuring drop-in children's programs in a way that encourages patrons to actually drop in?

This year, we switched to a new programming model that favors irregularly scheduled "big event" family programs. These programs are generally held on public school inservice days and last several hours. So far, we have done two of these, and in both cases most of the participants were there right before the program started. While it's gratifying to see hundreds of excited kids in the library all at once, we don't have the staff, resources, or floor space to handle the rush. Once the initial surge of kids has abated, the program just clears out. We recently had a four-hour drop-in Halloween program that attracted about 500 participants; of those, probably 3/5 were there during the 1st hour.

While we promote our programs through traditional marketing channels, most of our program participants hear about the program through our outreach visits to local schools and via word-of-mouth. I think we've all accepted that there's an unpredictable "telephone game" factor that we can't control (for example, several parents were under the impression that children were either required to wear costumes to our Halloween program, or that costumes were expressly forbidden). Parents also seem to be under the impression that we will run out of art supplies/prizes/treats if they don't get there right at the beginning - and the giant crowds do nothing to dispel that notion.

Has anyone out there in libraryland had any success getting patrons to spread out their visits to drop-in programs? Santa is visiting in December, and if he gets trampled by seven-year-olds... well, none of us want jolly old elf blood on our hands.

Jane Scheppke, MLIS
Assistant Director, Crook County Library
175 NW Meadow Lakes Drive
Prineville, OR 97754
(541) 447-7978 ext. 303
jscheppke at crooklib.org

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