Posted in Adult Programs

Passive Program: Coloring Pages for Adults

With the recent popularity of adult coloring books that many libraries are taking advantage of for programs, I decided to cash in at my library as well. I had considered purchasing copies of the books that are available, but then was concerned they would come back…well, colored.

To see if there’s actually an interest in my community, I’ve decided to try out a passive program first. This takes very little staff time, and if the coloring sheets disappear, I know I can take it further. I love the idea of a “coloring and cocktails” program!

I found a list of free adult coloring pages available on the web, printed a few off, copied them and now have them out in the reading room with colored pencils, a pencil sharpener and signage explaining the deal. We already have a number of patrons who frequent the room to work on puzzles we set out, so I’m thinking it may go over pretty well!

Posted in Adult Programs

Prohibition & Free Beer at the Library

This past Monday we had a first for the Oskaloosa Public Library: a free beer tasting! What made it greater, though, was the fact that we paired it with a presentation on prohibition. Local author, Linda Betsinger McCann, shared about her book Prohibition in Eastern Iowa, and afterward the awesome folks from The Cellar Peanut Pub provided samples of four Iowa craft beers.

Linda was a great presenter and storyteller. She shared about her research process and her interactions with the people she interviewed about prohibition in Iowa. It was interesting to learn that Al Capone – who I only ever associated with Chicago – had a presence and influence in Iowa during the 13 year span of prohibition.

I could tell that Linda is passionate about history and about sharing the past with younger generations. What I really appreciated was her effort to research police records from the local paper to share with the audience. She cautioned everyone that they may learn something about someone they know, as she experienced at other presentations!

Following Linda’s presentation, I invited the owner of The Cellar Peanut Pub and his pubtender to talk a little bit about the four craft beers they brought for samples. They included beers from Lion Bridge Brewing Company out of Cedar Rapids, Exile Brewing Co. out of Des Moines, and Peace Tree Brewing Co. out of Knoxville.

I’m very grateful that the The Pub was willing to donate the sampling, and hope that they got further business after giving people a taste of what they offer. The owner and pubtender were great, and it seemed like the people sampling the beers really enjoyed them.

Because Oskaloosa tends toward the conservative side, I was prepared to hear some negative feedback about having alcohol in the library; however, I haven’t yet. I did, though, do a bit of investigation beforehand to make sure it was all legal. First, I spoke with the state’s bureau of alcoholic beverages who said that if the samples were under and ounce and served only to patrons 21 years or older, it wouldn’t violate any state ordinances.

Next I checked with the city attorney and the public works director, and they couldn’t find anything in zoning ordinances or the city code that prohibited the sampling. Then I checked with the city’s insurance to make sure it would be covered under general liability. Finally, I made sure it was cool with the city manager. He even said he spoke to a couple of city council members, and they liked that I was doing new and different things to bring people into the library.

The event brought 40 people to the library, which I felt for a Monday evening was really good. Some of them even revealed on the program survey I handed out that it was the first program they had ever attended at the library. Everyone had positive comments too!

Posted in Adult Programs, Displays

Poetry & Arts in April at the Library

If you’ve read past blog posts, you’ll know that I’m a fan of poetry and that April is National Poetry Month. I try to do at least one thing related to poetry at the library, even if it’s a simple display featuring titles from our poetry collection.

In the past, I’ve gone all out and used mannequins for Poetry In Your Pocket Day, featured favorite poets from staff and let a poetry slamming gorilla loose in the library. This year, I kept the display simple, using a word cloud with poetry related words and phrases.

Borrowing an idea from my days at the Lawrence Public Library, I decided to set up a “Poetry Nook” in the entryway of the library. I’ve provided pens and paper, and am encouraging patrons to write a poem and put it in the box. The poems, then, will end up in random places around town – in a library book, in a booth at the local coffee shop, etc.

My major poetry event will be for teens. Members of our Teen Advisory Board requested we do a Poetry Slam again this year. For some reason, whenever I plan one of these, I have to include a bag of frozen burritos as one of the prizes. That bag of frozen goodness is always the most coveted prize – even over a $50 gift card!

Our Youth Librarian also has gotten into the spirit of National Poetry Month and has put together a fun Poetry “Mad Lib” for the children’s area. I’m looking forward to seeing what crazy things the kids come up with!

I was also approached by FACE of Mahaska County, a local arts organization, about planning and cross promoting arts-related programs and events in Oskaloosa for Arts in April. They recently opened an art center in town, and it’s very exciting to see what they’re bringing to this small-ish community. One of the things they’re doing is yarn bombing different locations around the city – including our Reading Garden:

They’ve coordinated with a number of organizations in the community and have put together a calendar of things happening this month. From graffiti installations to a Gallery Hop to one act plays directed by high school students, there’s a lot going on!

Posted in Adult Programs

One Community, One Book: Mahaska Reads

This past Wednesday saw the conclusion to Mahaska Reads, the first “one community, one book” program I helped organize. This year’s series of events and discussions were based around Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave. I’m pleased to say that it was very well received by the community, and I’m already looking forward to planning next year’s events.

In the past, Mahaska Reads was typically sponsored solely by the Oskaloosa Public Library. In order to reach a broader audience, I reached out to the manager of our local independent book store, Book Vault; the director of William Penn University’s Wilcox Library, and the teacher librarian at the local high school. We got together in March to decide on a title and met once a month from there to develop the series of events.

We kicked things off on September 15 with “Mahaska Book Night.” Inspired by World Book Night, I knew we could get people in the community excited about participating if they had the chance to receive a free copy of Twelve Years a Slave. The Oskaloosa Public Library Foundation graciously provided the funds to purchase 60 copies of the book. Members of the Mahaska Reads committee planned to hand thirty of those copies out at Smokey Row, a local coffee shop; Penn Central Mall; and The Cellar Peanut Pub.

I honestly was surprised at how quickly those books went – people were waiting at each of the locations! With poor planning on my part, I didn’t get to the pub until after the city council meeting, and there was a group of about ten who waited an hour before leaving disappointed. Fortunately, a few of them returned while I was there, and I still had copies for them.

The next evening we had our first program, Unconditional Surrender: A Visit with Ulysses S. Grant, and handed out the rest of our free copies of Twelve Years a Slave to the first 30 people who attended. We had 55 come! Marshalltown Community Theater actor Pete Grady offered a fantastic portrayal of the Civil War general and President. Mr. Grady’s knowledge of Grant’s life is extensive, and his presentation captured the attention and adoration of those in the audience. A great program!

Following events in the series included a book chat about titles with themes related to those in Twelve Years a Slave given by the high school librarian, the academic librarian and myself; a Community Discussion at a local assisted living facility; and a screening of Steve McQueen’s film adaptation at the library. Something I also didn’t expect was we had four book clubs in the community read and discuss the book!

Our final event took place at the Book Vault, a presentation on Abraham Lincoln and Emancipation given by Dr. Ron Rietveld, Lincoln scholar and professor emeritus of History at University of California-Fullerton. Knowledgeable and enlightening, Dr. Rietveld captured the attention of everyone in attendance and entertained several questions at the close of his presentation.

One of the participants said to me at the last book discussion that, as far as she could recall, this year’s Mahaska Reads was the most talked about in a long while. It wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration with those on the Mahaska Reads committee and the support of the Friends of the Library and the Library Foundation. I’m just happy that we were able to bring the community together and get them excited about reading, learning, and discussing issues with each other.

Posted in Adult Programs

Make It & Take It: Wine Glass Snow Globes

Last night I hosted the first of four “Make It & Take It” crafting programs we’re offering at the library this holiday season.  The program series invites patrons of all ages to create thrifty crafts – or gifts – for free and take them home.  I borrowed the idea from my days at the Lawrence Public Library and their “Thrifty Gifter” series, which was very popular. One of my crafty library assistants and I collaborated and came up with four crafts to offer: wine glass snow globes, cards, yarn wrapped wreaths, and felt ornaments.
Tuesday’s craft was the wine glass snow globes. I picked up some cheap wine glasses from the local Goodwill store and gathered small ornaments, ribbons, garland, glitter, white confetti for filling and other holiday themed crafting materials that were crammed in the many boxes the library has accumulated over the years. Using foam core for the bases, patrons selected their materials, designed their snow globe scenes and used hot glue to put it all together.
Planning and going in to the program, I didn’t know what kind of turn out to expect, and I was definitely surprised and delighted when 15 people showed up! I only managed to get 11 wine glasses, but fortunately, parents were agreeable to helping their kids make theirs.  I gave a few instructions at the beginning, and then gave them free reign over the materials. Everyone had a great time helping each other, and they were so thankful for the program!
Posted in Adult Programs

Author Night (a.k.a. College Night) at the Library

Tip: If you want to ensure your program audience participates in Q&A time, have a college professor offer extra credit to students for attending and asking questions.

Tuesday night, we invited YA/middle grade writers Brian Farrey, Wendy Delsol and Kelly Barnhill for an Author Night at the library. Posters in the library and at businesses around town, press releases, social media – we pushed it as much as we could. We were pretty thrilled to bring these authors to the library. It was a big investment for our medium-ish sized library. We had nine people show up…
I’m not complaining, though, because eight of those people were college students seeking extra credit for a class, and they each had very good questions for the authors. My youth librarian and I prepared questions beforehand, but we didn’t have to use a single one! The authors’ responses were brilliant, honest and filled an hour and fifteen minutes. I think the students learned a lot about writing and getting published and hopefully gained an interest in the authors’ works – which was half the purpose.
So a big THANK YOU to Brian, Wendy and Kelly for coming all the way to little ‘ol Oskaloosa for our Author Night!