Three Ideas For Libraries

LIBRARY CURRENCY

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Doesn’t the idea of of a library currency get you excited? I can almost envision the BENSON BUCKS that my library (Benson Memorial Library, hence the BENSON BUCKS name) may adopt as our form of library currency.

Imagine visiting your public library and planning on it just being a visit where you grab a few books and maybe at some point take a load off your feet and read a magazine because there’s really nice air conditioning in the space. You expect this to be an inward visit, but you overhear a conversation: someone is on the public computer and is perplexed by the task in front of them. You know what they’re dealing with, so with kindness in your heart you get up and offer assistance. You get that person to where they need to be. A librarian sees what is happening and in turn they decide to reward you with some library currency. This currency could be used to do a number of things: pay off fines, purchase a book from the book sale, pay for a fax or copy, etc.

The two ideas behind library currency are:

  1. The desire to reward good behaviors. We need more kindness in the world, and for kindness to continue to grow it needs to be rewarded. The creation of library currency allows those good deeds to be rewarded in a small way.
  2. Is your library one of those places that just can’t go fine free yet? Library currency gives your library a way to help with library fines while at the same time accomplishing another goal: promoting kindness in the community.

Over the next few months I’ll be looking into BENSON BUCKS for my library. I’ve got some ideas kicking around in my head as to what it looks like and what it can be used for. Once I pull that together, I’ll present the idea to my board and go from there.

BILLBOARDS

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I was driving down I-79 towards Pittsburgh earlier this week and I saw a giant billboard advertising something really dumb. I can’t recall what the billboard was endorsing, but I remember feeling like it was a waste of space and energy. In general billboards are horrible (4 states don’t allow them!) but for most states in the USA they’re everywhere and a part of our lives. How could we make them better? Why not advertise libraries?

I’m not thinking about how we can advertise our own libraries. I know there are a few billboards here in Titusville and I may look into that, but here I’m thinking about the bigger picture. Why don’t we get something simple like “Visit Your Local Library” up on these billboards? It doesn’t have to be part of some huge coordinated campaign with matching fonts and a marketing strategy and some national organization behind it. It can be a simple message that does nothing more than remind the people that drove by it that libraries exist and they’re here for them.

My guess for the reason as to why we’re not advertising on billboards is simple: it’s too expensive. While I don’t have any costs, I’m guessing we’re dealing with larger sums of money that most of us or our libraries don’t have. I’m going to dig deeper for my area starting here. I got to this by searching for “billboards in Pennsylvania” and this was one of the first hits.

THE SUMMER READING TREEHOUSE

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Every once in awhile I get the urge to completely reinvent the Summer Reading Program (got it this year). I recognize that this is a program that no matter what goes on that we just have to do, but I refuse to accept the fact that every year it has to be the same thing. If we’re going to remain relevant we’re going to have to try new things.

One of the ideas in my head right now is what I’m calling the Summer Reading Treehouse. I’m calling it this because 1) Treehouses are awesome and 2) When you’re in a treehouse you feel like you’re in some really cool club and 3) Who does want to be in some cool club? I mean that’s why secret societies exist am I right? Being in a treehouse make you feel like you’re included in something really awesome, and I feel that that feeling is something that is lacking very much in summer reading programs. I want the summer reading program to be something that people want to be involved in because they think it’s great, not because they’re forced to do it or there’s some kind of prize at the end. It needs to be a club that people in your community want to join.

While I don’t have all of my ideas together yet, here’s the basic idea: carve out a specific area in your library. This space will look different for every library. For my library, it is most likely going to be our community room that becomes the treehouse. Once you have that space, set it up with different activities (call them stations if it makes sense in your librarian brain) that are special and unique to the treehouse. For my library, that’ll be some video games, 3D Printing, different creative areas, and a chill out/reading/relaxing space for kids only. How do you get into the treehouse? You sign up for the Summer Reading Program. That’s your ticket into the treehouse, but there’s more. With your ticket into treehouse, there are levels that unlock certain rewards or areas. Read for 5 hours and you unlock a new area. Do something else and you get to another level. It’s a club, a secret society, a special place, and a unique experience wrapped up in one. It gives the Summer Reading Program a breath of new life. Stay tuned for more details as they develop.

 

 

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3 comments

  1. I’ll be watching to see what you do with the Benson Bucks. It’s an interesting idea!

    I remember seeing billboards for libraries in the Ft. Myers, FL, area a few years ago. I can’t remember if they were general or for a specific program. While billboard costs might still be more than what libraries can afford, they’re probably more affordable than you’d think, at least in comparison with other forms of media. In our area, the billboard companies will put inspirational messages (Be kind, Smile, etc.) on unsold billboards. I wonder if they’d work with a library as a PSA-type project.

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