This week we started our Winter Reading Program at our library. What is Winter Reading, you ask? It is like Summer Reading, just less intense. The problem that we run into is getting word out to our customers. We advertise in our newsletter and in our monthly program calendars. It appears on our web site. If you ask the average person if they are doing the Winter Reading Program, most will say that they read in the winter. They just don't know about this great program that we offer. How, then, do you get the word out?
1. We start with a display. While we don't have free wall space to make one, we do have this giant window that faces the road. The letters and pictures are cut large enough that you can actually see it from the road! This year we made our snowmen double-sided, which the little kids really like when they walk in the library. We made sure to include dates with the slogan so it looks like an actual program, not just a fun display. It has a purpose.
2. We have a table near the reference desk with all of the forms on it. There are multiple forms (we have 3 different age levels for Winter Reading) and each form has a sign below with the ages and/or grades. Personally, I like having the forms near enough so I can grab one and explain it to whoever comes up to the reference desk, but it is good to have out in the open too. Many of our customers are self-sufficient and never come up to the desk. This way they can see what the program is all about too.
3. Do you promote your program in your story times? How about in your other programs? You are a trusted figure when you appear in these programs and if you tell someone why participation is a good thing, chances are really good that they will join. It also helps if you have the forms readily available, especially in story times, as not all parents can spend large amounts of time in the library following the program. This way you are making it convenient for them to join.
4. Never underestimate the personal touch. If you see someone with a stack of books, chances are good that they will be checking them out. Why not approach them, hand them your form, and explain your program? We started doing this with our Summer Reading Program and our participation stats went significantly up. In fact, they went up so much, that I now spend the first day of summer reading next to the self-checks with a stack of forms for each age level to pass out and I talk to everyone who comes by.
Hopefully some of these ideas will help you promote your next major program!