I had a storytime last spring that I called Family Storytime, for all ages, but mostly 3 years-2nd grade. It was at 6:30 p.m. on a week night, unregistered. On average, five or six kids came. I will admit, I was bothered. I thought people would like being able to bring siblings of multiple ages to the same storytime. I thought I’d have forty or fifty people crowded into a meeting room. I was looking forward to the throngs of storytime fans. Where were they, then?
I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the program itself–the few who attended became regulars, and enjoyed themselves a lot–but I thought I could do better.
After pondering the matter during the summer, for this fall I changed the name to Beginning Reader Storytime, added some some fun literacy activities to the script, and made registration mandatory. Same night, same time.
What do you think happened?
I was gone during registration week and I returned to a full class of sixteen with a waiting list just as long. I added a second class that will run 15 minutes after the first one ends. People are still calling up to get in, and we’re putting them on a waiting list for the second session of the program which will happen in November.
If you try something and it fails, don’t assume that there is something wrong with your idea. Try tweaking the marketing and see what it gets you. I’m thoroughly convinced that if libraries marketed storyteller programs as Theatrical Performances or as puppet shows (just have the storyteller bring one puppet!), the attendance will increase dramatically.
How do you market your library’s programs, and libraries in general? (Here would be a good place to mention Crave Libraries, I think. Cross promotion. Now there’s some marketing for you.)