Program FAILS: Another thing I didn’t learn about in library school.
It was a Friday afternoon – my day off – and I was in a panic. I had to set up for my big summer program, an open mic night, and things were falling apart, starting with the fact that I had no key with which to let myself in to the library for this after hours event. I made a few calls to coworkers who live nearby, but no one answered. I thought fast. An outdoor open mic wouldn’t be so bad, right?
Actually, on a nice summer night it could be perfect. I dug around in the basement and found some folding chairs, a rug for the amp and mic stand, and a whole lot of extension cords. I packed this, along with a crate full of old sheets and blankets for seating, the amp, mic stand, mic, music stand… and my two kids (gosh, I thought my husband would be home by now!) into my hatchback and headed to work. On the way, I got a call from my boss who was a)home and b)willing to lend me his key. Yay! I doubled back (oh shoot, now I’ve got a sleeping kid in the backseat), grabbed the key and made it to the library with plenty of time to freak the heck out of the janitor, who didn’t know I was coming, and set up.
My open mic night – at the peak of summer on a beautiful night – didn’t hold a candle to the ballgames, ice cream shops, and outdoor movies that had drawn my teens away from the library and into summertime activities. My marketing for the event also left something to be desired, and I realized that while the newsletter is great for promoting events to parents who will sign their younger teens up for activities, it’s dismal at promoting to more autonomous older teens – the kind that would take the initiative to come to an open mic. I’m persevering and will try again with some different strategies in place.
Out your worst program fails and let’s all groan at them together, then let’s troubleshoot ways to fix these flops and do better next time.
Filed under: Program Fails, Programming, Things I Never Learned in Library School
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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