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A New Year at Your Library

Ashley Flynn
Ashley Flynn, Director at Highland Community Library. Currently Reading: The Rose Society by Marie Lu

by Ashley Flynn
The start of a new year is a natural time of rebirth and reinvention. Many people make resolutions for all of the ways they plan to improve themselves over the coming year, like losing ten pounds or getting organized. These resolutions are strides towards becoming your own best person, something that I believe is most easily accomplished with the aid of a library. Almost any resolution you might think of can be tied into one of the PA Forward literacies, proving that libraries are a perfect partner for anyone seeking self-improvement. Whatever the resolution may be, our libraries are perfectly poised to give our patrons the information they need to make those resolutions a success.

Basic Literacy
Basic Literacy fits perfectly with many of the programs and services we’re already offering, but the new year is a great time to bring this to the forefront. Encourage your patrons to resolve to read more in 2016! We all know about the many benefits to be gained from reading, but our patrons may not realize what they’re missing – especially if they are coming to us for other services, like computer use. Make an engaging display full of different kinds of books, or try book-talking particular titles on your social media platforms. The easier it is to connect with the right book, the more likely it is that a patron will read it!

This is also a great time to promote your regular programs, like book clubs. You could design your January Book Club discussion as an open house to encourage new members to take a look. This is another opportunity to achieve your “read more” resolution; even if you only read the book club selection, you may read as many 12 books in a year!

Children’s programming represents another important way to achieve resolutions. Parents may resolve to spend more time with their children, or to be more consistent in engaging their children with literacy. Our programs are a perfect fit! Remind your community of the many benefits their children can reap from attending a program.

Information LiteracyComputer Workstartion Feb 2015
People often seek new skills and may choose the start of the new year as an impetus to learn something new. In some cases, 2016 might be the year they finally decide to figure out this email thing. We are here to help! Schedule a computer class and encourage users to develop a new skill this year. With information and technology, there is no shortage of new skills to be learned, and the start of a new year is a perfect opportunity to dig in!

Many folks will receive e-readers as gifts this holiday season, but will be at a complete loss when it comes to using them. Host an e-reader session to show them the way, especially if you have an ebook collection available.

For patrons who are looking to become more organized, present a short session on some common apps or technologies that may prove beneficial. Create a bookmark with effective time management strategies to distribute; this suggestion could be particularly beneficial in a school or college library! You can tailor your suggestions to include tips about using the library effectively, especially if your patrons are able to log into their own accounts from home.

You can even spin Information Literacy in a low-tech light for those patrons who are either burned out by technology or not ready to get their toes wet. Help connect patrons with the resources to develop a new hobby, such as crocheting or jewelry making. You may be able to host an expert for a demonstration, or tap into the skills of some talented person on staff. Even the simple act of creating a display showcasing your many useful craft books may be enough to help someone get started on a brand new hobby!

Health LiteracyNutrition Links Giveaway 2015
Health Literacy is one that can get a lot of attention in the new year, as the most common resolutions involving staying fit, eating healthy, or losing weight. If you are able, bring a fitness guru in to present a demonstration on some variety of exercise. I hope to find a yoga instructor to present easy poses that can be done at home. This way, we aren’t duplicating gym services, but are providing patrons with the information they need to do yoga at home. You may already have plenty of resources on fitness and exercise in your collection; pull some titles to display! Your circulation is sure to increase.

Every public library I’ve ever worked in has had an impressive selection of cookbooks, and this is a great time to promote them. Your healthy eating cookbooks are likely to be popular this time of year, but you can make a case for others too, such as books that promote making things from scratch, or that save time with semi-homemade recipes.

I have written before about Nutrition Links, presented by the Penn State Extension. I’m offering this four-week nutrition class in January and hope to target those parents and child caregivers who are looking to offer nutritious options to their kids in 2016. This program is free and so easy to offer!

Financial Literacy
Money is another topic that is likely to get some attention as we ring in 2016. Remind your community how much money they can save by becoming a regular at your library! A person who buys only one book a month could save about $240 a year by using the library instead, and avid readers can save even more.

Many local banks or financial institutions will present a program for free in your library if you ask. Find out what experts they have available and choose a topic that may suit your community. For instance, if you live in an older community, a workshop on preparing for retirement may be a huge hit!

Civic and Social Literacy
It’s never a bad time to become a better informed, more active member in your community. Host a community night in your library and invite other nonprofits to attend and promote their volunteer opportunities. This could be a great way to forge some connections throughout your community, as well as draw in some new volunteers for your own library!

2016 is a presidential election year, so it’s a perfect time to host a political discussion or forum for your residents. Invite local politicians to weigh in on important topics, or ask a local professor to do a talk on a relevant issue. If you’re in a school or college library, ask members of your local student government to help design and run an informative event for the rest of the student body.

No matter what resolutions your patrons make this year, your library is the perfect partner to help them achieve it. Think of the New Year as a time to promote the wonderful things you’re already doing for your community and use the PA Forward Literacies to help articulate them!

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