3 Sources for Inspiration


YES! Summer reading programs have started, the big parties have launched, and we can take a big collective breath and relax until July 4th.

Except that all the fall and winter programming schedules are due next week and all of our brain synapses are fried. So what to do? Where do we get ideas when the well is dry?

I have three go-to places when I am beating my head against a wall for inspiration for programs, and so far, they haven’t failed me yet.



When I was younger it drove me NUTS that craft stores were always ahead of seasons- why would you need Halloween stuff around Memorial Day, and Christmas stuff before July? However, when I have turn in programming ideas and schedules months ahead of time, they are a fountain of ideas for craft programs.

Stores host classes and birthday parties for all ages, so start talking to the employees while you’re in there- you can learn the schedule of classes and often make a good partner for the library at the same time. There has been many a time that I’ve gone in just browsing and come out with multiple ideas for a craft program, and contact information for someone who would be willing to come in and do a program for teens.



When Pinterest first started, it generated a ton of interest and everyone seemed to be talking about whether or not you were on Pinterest- do you have a board? Do you have an account? Now it seems that while everyone has one, and most every website has the option to pin content, and phones and browsers have an additional option to share content via pin, no one seems to talk about it anymore.  It’s like they’re all thinking, Oh, yea, I did that.

But WHY? There are SO MANY people on there, and so many ideas that are pulsing around and can be used within the library sphere. There’s a Teen Programming in Libraries Board that has over 200 libraries pinning activities to it; as of June 10, 2015 it had over 3,800 pins. Almost every blog we’ve recommend on TSU has a Pinterest board that has their programs on there, and a host of librarians can be found there as well with their own personal boards. Recently Pinterest updated their search feature and suggested pins, making things easier than ever to find. From Makerspaces to LEGO activities, gaming to crafts, there are tons of ideas out there just waiting to be used.



The library world is one of the best professions for sharing information- not only for patrons but between other librarians as well. We are one of the few in the world where we WANT others to copy what we’re doing, and furthermore we want others to take our programs and improve upon them and spread them around the world. Few things make us happier than seeing a program that we’ve put together being presented at another library system.

So if you’re into social media (some people aren’t), check out libraries that have teen programs that you admire, and see what social media that they use that you have in common. Do you both have Instagram? Follow them. Do you both have Twitter? Follow them. Then check out their stream every so often when you need ideas. A good social media presence will have pictures of programs that are going on, and you can track that to the library calendar and see what it was called, and where it was held if it wasn’t tagged. If you want details, reach out to the branch and see if they’ll put you in touch with the librarian who put on the program. Start a dialog, and you’ll make a contact and have ideas for a new program.

What are your go-to sources for programming inspiration? Share in the comments!

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