3 Big Ideas to Set Your Library Up for Event Success
Libraries like yours have always endeavored to provide patrons with relevant programming that educates, entertains, and builds a sense of community. Today, library events are more popular than ever; according to the Pew Research Center, the number of library users attending classes, programs, or lectures saw a 10-point increase between 2015 and 2016.
Increased demand for events can put stress on library staff, but by following these best practices for planning, you can minimize headaches and set your library events up for success.
1. Don’t Delay — Schedule Events ASAP!
Events do take work, but planning any type of program becomes more manageable when you get an early start. And when you consider how planning ahead benefits all stakeholders — your library, your staff, and your patrons — it’s easy to feel inspired to get started now. Here are a few tips:
- Gather all ideas for the rest of the year, then get out a calendar and choose dates for all of your remaining events now. From there, you can delegate tasks so that no one staff member has to take on an overwhelming amount of work. You can also put holds on the rooms that you’ll need as well.
- Give staff enough time to work through their tasks. Avoid the “hurry up and wait” mentality, but take advantage of some of your extra time, too. If you get an early start on scheduling, try implementing a policy that requests staff submit their details (e.g., the official name, time, location, intended audience, activities that will take place) two to three months prior to the event date.
- Once you have all of the details, get a head start on promoting the event. This is a sure way to boost attendance. Be sure to share time, location, and how to register on your flyers, website, newsletters, emails, social media platforms, and city and partner websites.
2. Provide One Central Calendar for Patrons and Staff to Access
Paper calendars and registration logs can get messy and time-consuming, as well as greatly limit your ability to advertise and manage events. By using a calendar system that is easily accessible online, staff and patrons will have convenient access to event information and registration anytime, anywhere. This method can also help eliminate the problem of double-booking rooms.
With a tool like Demco Software’s SignUp, staff members will have one central place to schedule and record event information. In particular, scheduling of recurring events will be much less time-consuming. Marketing also becomes easier, as SignUp can automatically advertise events from the library’s calendar directly to specific pages on your website through RSS feeds. Patrons will also have a convenient way to register for events and sign up for optional text reminders.
By minimizing the manual work of scheduling and promotion, you can reallocate those resources to what matters most — fine-tuning your program details.
3. Adopt This Mantra: No Detail Is Too Small
It may seem like some details, like room configuration, setup and teardown times, and A/V equipment needs, can be saved until closer to the event. But you can eliminate potential headaches in the long run by collecting all the small (and large) details early through an event request template like this one, which can be used to easily gather data to input into your calendar system.
Focusing on the details in advance has benefits for staff and patrons:
- Staff members are better able to manage their time leading up to the event.
- You will be able to promote the event, including the details, well ahead of time, giving patrons plenty of time to decide if they are interested in attending.
- The easier you can make the whole experience for attendees, from registration to attending the event, the more likely they are to come back again, and the more focused your staff can be on leaving a positive, lasting impression.
While capturing details up front is the first step in ensuring that all stakeholders have the information they need, some details have to wait until the event is near. Here are a few things to keep in mind as the event draws closer:
- Remind staff what is expected of them on the day of the event and reiterate your goals.
- Check in with facilities personnel, if necessary, to ensure all needed equipment will be set up at the specified time.
- Post signs within the library to help patrons find the event’s location.
Ready to put these ideas into action and get a head start on your planning? Download our free Event Request Template to easily collect all of the information you’ll need to educate, entertain, and build a sense of community at your library.