Two weeks ago, I asked a question of those of you who create library programs: When it comes to library programs, what is your planning style? I ended up with 49 responses to that question, and I find the results of this (admittedly small sample size) poll interesting. Without further ado, the breakdown of how you all plan your programs:
The most popular program planning style (in orange), which is standard for over half of us, is to plan a general theme in advance of the program and fill in the details in the last few days before it happens. This method is primarily how I program, as I mentioned in my initial post. I personally like that there are so many fantastic ideas out there in libraryland that my colleagues are willing to share, and when I find something I like, I make note of it (and of my source!); I feel very comfortable filling in the fine print of the program--or the less fine print, if I'm unprogramming--closer to the actual event. I find this strategy especially useful since sometimes my expected program attendance can vary wildly. No use planning a huge program for what looks, in the few days leading up to the program, to be a group of five. It seems many of you agree, albeit I'm sure your reasons may differ from mine. Share details of your reasoning in the comments!
The next most popular program planning styles are having a loose plan and going with the audience's mood (in green) and meticulously planning a program at least a week in advance (in red). I'm curious to know what sorts of programs these respondents are offering. Loose planners, what do your programs look like, and what do your attendees think of them? Meticulous planners, what are your motivations for planning ahead? Preparedness, staff or budget control, centralized planning? I'd love to know if you're inclined to share in the comments.
Only two of you said that you totally wing it when it comes to programming (in blue), and three of you clarified your programming planning style with other responses (in purple). One of those "Others" plans every detail over a month ahead of time, and the other two admit to using different planning styles for different types of programs. Which brings up a good point--are some programs "quicker" to plan than others? Relative ease could stem from substantial experience offering a type of program--story times, for instance--or from a number of other factors. Have you found that you can put together certain types of programs more quickly, efficiently, and effectively than others which require more brainpower? How do your program offerings break down along these lines? I know that I personally need to do at least a bit of deliberate planning for each of my programs, although my STEAM programs do take a bit more concentration and intention than my story times. How does it work out for you?
And, last but not least, what does this all mean? I find it encouraging that the vast majority of you have some sort of plan in place when you walk into a program room full of kids. That fact gives some validation to my own methods--in particular sharing program ideas with colleagues. I primarily use blogs, conferences, Twitter conversations, and other collaborative/interactive spaces to get ideas, and that's what I try to do here, too. Knowing that you all, to varying extents, use plans in your programming, too, makes me even more inclined to share as much of my programming on this blog (and the ALSC blog) as I can.
The last thing I want to say is that I am thrilled to see so many youth services librarians putting any level of thought and deliberation into programming, and I cannot wait for opportunities to talk programs with all of you. If you're in Seattle for ALA Midwinter this weekend, let's chat.