Library resources appeal to wide variety of patron ages and interests. That’s why when a doe-eyed family walks through your library doors, you can’t help but feel a sense of duty to introduce them to your library’s extensive collection of Robert Hayden sonnets or your impressive I SPY series.
Connecting with families provides libraries the opportunity to reach different age groups and introduce resources across generations. Here’s how you can make libraries a family matter and start opening your patrons’ eyes to an Aladdin-style “Whole New World.”
Infants and Toddlers
While the library is a renowned place to bring children of reading age, many may not immediately think of the library when trying to plan an outing with a young infant or toddler. The good news is that library learning can start well before a child is able to make sense of the plot intricacies of Goodnight Moon. Programs like Family Place Library allow you to put on parenting workshops at your library so even the youngest patrons can experience sound-based learning through clapping, music and story readings.
Try implementing a weekly program for parents with young children and be sure to provide them with resources for new parents. By offering a regular program at your library, new parents will be able to further develop their parenting network as well as introduce their children to library offerings at a young age.
Elementary School and Middle School
Families with children in elementary and middle school are likely some of your library’s regular MVPs (Most Valuable Patrons). These families are no strangers to the twists and turns of The Hardy Boys and have come to terms with their children upping their reading levels and graduating into the young adult section. By catering your library’s resources to these up-and-coming readers, you can ensure that the whole family gets involved with their local library and that family bonding will ensure through those tricky braces and headgear years.
Implement a family book club at your library and provide different genres so that everyone is reading exactly their cup of T is for Turkey. In order to make sure the book club is a full family affair, choose complementary novels that adults can get involved with as well, such as To Kill a Mockingbird. Adults will appreciate re-reading the novel to gain a new understanding of the book, and it’s still age-appropriate for tweens looking for a great read. For those more involved families, challenge them to combine their two reading experiences into one book report to rule them all. Your whole reading group can enjoy what they come up with and even learn a little bit in the process.
Families with teenagers can be some of the most difficult patrons to reach. While families may be familiar with the terrible twos, they forget to account for the terrible teens and might have some difficulty promoting family events throughout these years. However, with the right event and a little bit of willpower, you can plan events that the whole family will love.
Poll your existing high school patrons on what events they would most like to attend. Hold outings such as fundraisers, movie nights, barbeques and even a local college night teens can attend with their parents and friends, integrating the entire family into your library community without embarrassing sullen adolescents. Parents will likely be more than thrilled to attend an event with their teen, and your library event may turn into a regular outing that families can experience together.
Establishing family events at your library is one of the best ways to attract patrons of all ages. Check out our whitepaper to learn more about why we will always need public libraries.