Friday, September 22, 2017

3 Quick Banned Books Week Ideas

It's Banned Books Week on September 24th-30th. While many of us celebrate this as one of the library world's most important holidays, it's also true that it's not for everyone. If you're just not a fan of huge flashing-lights displays and caution tape banners but would like to celebrate anyway, this article is for you! Kat has compiled some quick Banned Books Week ideas to help you quickly and easily celebrate.

Mad Libs

Remember how much fun Mad Libs were when you were a kid? You fill in the blank spaces of a pre-written story with a word with their correct part of speech, thereby taking an ordinary paragraph and making it very silly. We thought, what better way to have fun with Banned Books Week than by redacting parts of classic banned books and making our own Mad Libs? Please feel free to download (just right click the pictures below and save!) and print these samples for your patrons! We'd love to see any that you make yourself, too; I used Canva to create them, so the hardest part was choosing which passages to use.





Covered Books


I always love the Blind Date with a Book displays that are done for Valentine's Day. Why not cover books and write on them why they can't be read? It might be surprising to some people to unwrap a book that is labeled as "CAUTION: Contains inappropriate language!" and find Harriet the Spy. (Harriet, incidentally, was also challenged because she liked to wear boy clothes, and therefore might be a homosexual.) You can even, as in our sample here, simply mention that "this book is dangerous!"


Mini Protest Signs 

Teen Librarian Hallie Fields recently posted about these great mini-protest signs on her blog, Book Loaner. (She also had the covered books idea! Great minds think alike!) These are so easy, it would be a great way to get your Teen Advisory Board involved. All you need is cardstock or index cards, craft sticks, and markers. What a brilliant idea! Thanks, Hallie, for giving us permission to share your idea.


We would love to see how you're celebrating Banned Books Week. Please let us know here in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Ready to Go Book Display: Librarians

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. For librarians and their fans, here's some books for you.

Recommendations for Adults:

 
A famous author returns to his hometown and is murdered. It's up to Charlie Harris, the town's librarian and his cat Diesel, to find the killer before the wrong person is arrested for the crime. The trouble is, every last one of Charlie's friends and coworkers had a score to settle with the novelist.
 
 
 
The World's Strongest Librarian by Joshua Hanagarne (May 2013)
Traces the public librarian author's inspiring story as a Mormon youth with Tourette's Syndrome who after a sequence of radical and ineffective treatments overcame nightmarish tics through education, military service and strength training.
 
 
 
Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin (Nov 2012)
While on a literary tour in London that pays homage to mysteries, librarian Karen Nash is faced with a real-life mystery when another guest at the B&B where she is staying is murdered and her ex and his new girlfriend turn up.
 
 
 
The Librarian by Larry Beinhart (Aug 2004)
University librarian David Goldberg begins a side job as a conservative activist, a position that lands him in hot water with a conspiratorial clique of wealthy right-wingers who want him gone.
 
 
 
Lending a Paw: A Bookmobile Cat Mystery by Laurie Cass (Dec 2013)
Bookmobile-driving Minnie Hamilton investigates after her new cat, Eddie, lead her to the body of a murdered local resident.
 
 
 
Small-town librarian Kathleen Paulson discovers that the two stray cats she has taken in - Owen and Hercules - are truly special when she, the prime suspect in a murder, gets some unexpected feline help in solving the crime and clearing her name.
 
 
 
Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum (May 2003)
A collection of the daily Unshelved comic strips set at the Mallville Public Library.
 
 
 
Newly single Lindsey Norris, the director of the Briar Creek Public Library, tries to help her best friend Beth, a children's book author, prove her innocence when she is accused of murdering her boyfriend Rick, a local celebrity.

Recommendations for Teens:
 
 
Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen (Sep 2014)
Feeling suspicious about a gorgeous high school librarian who has become the object of her best friend's affections, Cynthia discovers that the man is actually a demon who is sucking the life force from the entire student population.
 
 
 
Sparrow by Sarah Moon (Oct 2017)
Fourteen-year-old Sparrow Cooke struggles with emotional issues and suicidal feelings following the death of her school librarian, who was the only person who seemed to understand her.
 
 
 
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine (Jul 2015)
In a world where the Great Library of Alexandria governs the flow of information to the people, Jess discovers that those who control the Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than human life after his friend inadvertently commits heresy.

Recommendations for Children:

 
I'm a Librarian by Brian Biggs (Mar 2017)
Presents a day in the life of a librarian in Tinyville Town.
 
 
 
Librarian's Night Before Christmas by David Davis (Jan 2006)
In a parody of the famous poem by Clement C. Moore, a harried librarian and her facility get a surprise holiday visit from Santa and his bookmobile.
 
 
 
The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey (Apr 2014)
Dorrie and her brother Marcus accidently open a portal to Petrarch's Library, where they discover a secret society of warrior librarians who travel in time, protecting the world's greatest thinkers from torture and death for sharing knowledge and ideas.
 
 
 
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen (Jul 2006)
A lion starts visiting the local library but runs into problems as he tries to both obey the rules and help his librarian friend.
 
 
 
Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough (May 2013)
Examines the story of how librarian Ann Carroll Moore created the first children's room at the New York Public Library.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Creative Ways to Handle Fines

We're here today to talk about overdue fines, which can be a surprisingly divisive issue. I've worked in a few different library systems, and every system (heck, every library!) deals with fines differently. In some libraries, having even $0.25 in fines can result in a blocked library card; others will have a cap (one place I worked had the cap at $30, another at only $5), at which point you can no longer borrow items or use online systems. Some places don't have fines at all, which can cause some issues in and of itself (such as, a patron having a book out for months at a time and not feeling the need to return it).

The pros of having fines:
  • Incentive to bring books and other materials back in a timely manner.
  • Raising money for library services (sometimes).
The cons:
  • It causes unnecessary stress on library patrons and staff.
  • Patrons with very overdue books know they owe money, and won't return to the library because they either don't want to or can't pay the fines, or they're embarrassed about money owed.
  • Some libraries don't even get their own fine money - it goes to the town. (In one library where I worked, the director would have to go to Town Meeting every year and ask for the fine money back, and would hopefully be granted a "special one-time money transfer" for the funds.) 
Okay. So, that's what we have going on. It's not a perfect system, but it works fairly well. BUT - is there a better way? Some libraries have creative ways of dealing with fines. Perhaps one of these could work for you!

These might be an easier sell to your Director and Trustees if your library doesn't get the collected fine money anyway, but just the act of getting patrons back into your library could be a huge selling point. (Of course, these only apply to overdue fines, and not lost book replacement costs.)

Creative Ways to Handle Fines

Amnesty Day/Week/Month - Some libraries will have Amnesty/Forgiveness during certain times of year - usually the first week of summer vacation, or around New Year's. Bring your items back and, no matter how overdue they are, they will be checked in without fines. I used to work in a library that had Fine Free Wednesdays every single week, and let me tell you, it brought in tons of people who hadn't been to the library in far too long - sometimes years! Since it was all checked in fine free, there was no issue with being embarrassed, because we wouldn't even know how overdue the items were. Plus, Wednesdays went from our slowest days, to our busiest!

Food for Fines - Often done for a week or sometimes the entire month of December. Patrons bring in food/non-perishable items for the local food pantry or homeless shelter, and we waive any fines that have accrued on their account (or, in some libraries, clear $1 off for every food item). I've also seen this done in partnership with animal shelters, with donations of canned cat and dog food.

No Fines for Special Populations - Fines will accrue on items until they are returned, and then they will be waived for whichever people qualify. I've seen this done for senior citizens, children under 12, military service members and veterans, and patrons with special needs.

No Fines at All - As above, fines will accrue on patron accounts until materials are returned. This prohibits people from keeping items indefinitely, because if an item reaches "Lost" status or the fine cap, they can no longer use library services until materials are returned - at which point, all fines are forgiven.

Fines Waived After a Certain Time - I haven't seen too many libraries do this, but there are some out there in which fines will be cleared after a certain time - generally a few years, so a book that was checked out to a 6 year old will no longer be on their account when they are in high school.

Work It Off - Some libraries will take volunteer time in lieu of payment for fines. This can be problematic for libraries, because we prefer our volunteers to make a commitment to keep coming back for a certain amount of time (at least a year), and because they need to be trained before they can work/shelve for us. However, if a teen patron wants to work off fines they accrued by cutting out shapes for storytime crafts, this may be a good work-around.

Read It Off - In some libraries, children under 12 can reduce their fines by reading (usually $1 waived per hour read) - but they have to be reading while in the library for it to count.

We'd love to hear some ideas that work for your libraries. Please let us know in the comments here, on our Twitter page, or on Facebook.

Friday, September 1, 2017

You Can Now Link Your Facebook Page to a Group (and why you may want to do this)

Facebook recently announced that ALL pages can now link their page directly to their group. How awesome is that? This is so exciting for many reasons:



1. It Is Hard to Find New Groups on Facebook

Unless you know the exact name of the group you are looking for, it is hard to find them in the Facebook search. Now that you can connect your groups directly to your page, this will allow patrons to easily locate your groups. All they have to do is visit your Library Page, and go to the left side. (For how to link your groups to your page, visit this handy article from Grytics!)

2. Groups Work Differently than Pages

If you ever considered making a group for your library patrons, now is the time to do it! It could be ideal for many reasons:

  1. Groups get higher priority in the news feed than pages (so, patrons are more likely to see your posts).
  2. It'll allow you to divide your followers into appropriate groups. You can make a group for teens, another for parents/caregivers, another for adults and only post the relevant information into each section. It may also provide a way for patrons to connect with each other -- a local community with people they wouldn't normally have a reason to reach out to (especially if your town/city DOES NOT have a special Facebook group for residents).
  3. You will have the ability to comment and like as your page in your groups, which will help patrons know it is "the library" that is responding.
  4. Facebook acknowledges that it can be time consuming to accept people into groups, so they added a filtering feature where you can easily sort the requests by location and accept/deny at once. You can also add a questionnaire with up to 3 questions that new members must answer before they apply if you want to expand your reach beyond what locations they have listed on Facebook.

3. Bump Your Post Reach With Targeted Marketing

Not only can they easily find the link on your page to your group, you can also easily share your relevant posts to this group. Targeted Marketing! When people respond to your post in the group, it'll bump up your post reach on your page as well. And, as we all know by now, when your current post gets interactions, it'll do better and increase the reach on your next post. That's a win/win!

4.  Group Analytics

With targeted advertising, you'll be able to see what posts are working for your specific groups: the demographics as well as the days and times they are active online. This is valuable info that you cannot parse from a generic Facebook Page which all patrons follow. And new to Groups: Admins and moderators can create and schedule posts to publish at a specific day and time!

Do you have a successful Library Facebook Group? If so, please share in the comments! We'd love to hear what types of groups have worked for you.

Additional Info:
Our First Communities Summit and New Tools For Group Admins
3 Reasons Why Facebook Groups May Offer New Opportunities for Brands
How to Link Your Facebook Groups and Pages
Facebook Groups Can Now Screen New Members With a Questionnaire

Friday, August 25, 2017

So, You Want to Be a Consulting and Training Services Director for Libraries

This week, we have a guest writer, Sarah Sogigian who is the CATS (Consulting and Training Services) Director at the Massachusetts Library System. We asked her to share with our readers what it is like to be a CATS Director and impart any tips for those interested in pursuing a similar career path. Without further ado, here's her response:

When I started working in libraries over 20 years ago, never did I think either of these words would be in a title of a position I would hold: CATS (Consulting and Training Services) and Director. I don’t like cats. And I never aspired to be a library director. So how did I end up here? Good question. Looking back on my career path, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and apply all sorts of great opportunities, some of which I admit I didn’t realize at the time how lucky I was to have. Hindsight provides a great lens for perspective.


Background

My dream library jobs include being a librarian at the Herrick Film Library, an Event Planner at the Boston Public Library, and a cruise ship librarian. But I’m very happy where I have landed. I’ve been building my career since my first job as a Page at the Shrewsbury Public Library. After being a Circ Assistant, ILL Librarian, and Electronic Resources Librarian, I finally found the position I thought I was born to do till retirement: Young Adult Librarian. Turns out, I was born to do it for 4 years. I moved on and became the Youth Services Consultant at the Metrowest and Boston Regional Library Systems. My role at MLS started with the Great Regional Consolidation of 2010, as a Youth Services Advisor, then after 5 or so years, I applied and was promoted to the position I currently hold, supervising 7 full time and 1 part time staff members. Our super fabulous team creates the consulting and professional development services MLS provides to our 1,600 member libraries.

Key Roles

The biggest parts of my job include things I have always enjoyed doing: Learning from others, sharing my knowledge, organization, writing on walls, laughing, and including as many Buffy the Vampire Slayer references as I can. I try to approach everything I do with these key ingredients. I often plan and lead trainings internally for MLS staff, and a training is much more enjoyable if you use post it notes and write on the walls or use a Buffy MadLibs to demonstrate facilitation techniques.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is a big part of my ongoing planning…I can’t do anything without goals! Whether you supervise others or just want to give yourself a road to follow, goal setting will provide you with that line. When your mind begins to wander and you begin to feel overwhelmed, you have a compass to guide you back. It’s critical to your success and your library’s success. If you are unsure of where to begin, look to your library’s strategic plan. Base your goals off of what your library’s goals are. No need to be super specific; you can always adjust your goals and how you will accomplish them as you go. Leave room for things you can’t control.

When to Say No... And Yes

Another tip that took me a long time to understand is when to say no…and yes. It’s ok to say both! Stress can be very real and often we have the power to keep it at bay. Sometimes saying no to something you can’t take on at this moment is ok. But don’t forget to say yes, too! Saying yes to new opportunities helps you develop and keeps the dreaded work plateau at bay. Saying yes is what helps define your career path. And be ready to share your skills with some professional positions like committee work, elected positions, or volunteer opportunities. Sounds contradictory to saying no, doesn’t it? It’s really about knowing your personal limitations and aspirations.

Being a Supervisor

If you find yourself saying “it’s not my job”, then a supervisory role may not be for you. In the end, everything is your job. You are responsible for those you supervise and the work they do. To be a good manager or director, you’ll need to work with your team, not establish lines of them vs you. Some people feel once they get to a certain level or job title, that they can wipe their hands of old work and move on. For me, it’s not about doing the old work, but understanding it and remembering how the work impacts your team and your public. From there, you can build a service that positively impacts your library, your public, and your staff.

Finally, don’t feel there is a time where you will be “ready” for a supervisory role. You’ll never be ready and even if you are, there may not be a job open. If you are nervous and excited, it’s the time to apply. Learn as much as you can about what will be expected of you, but be ready to work and learn for others, including your staff. You’ll need their support as much as they will need yours.


Sarah Sogigian
Consulting and Training Services Director
Massachusetts Library System
508-357-2121 x311
sarah@masslibsystem.org
@sarahatmls

---------------

Thank you to Sarah for her guidance and expertise! If you enjoyed this post, check out the rest in our "So You Want to Be a Librarian" series:

So You Want To Be a Teen Librarian
So You Want To Be a Reference Librarian
So You Want To Be a Children's Librarian
So You Want To Be a Children's Librarian: Programming and Events

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ready to Go Book Display: Spooky Reads for Halloween

Ready to Go Book Display: Spooky Reads for Halloween

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. Grab your pumpkin latte and let's look at books for Halloween.

Recommendations for Adults:

 
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (Jul 2017)
 
The surviving members of a forgotten teen detective club and their dog reunite as broken adults on an effort to solve a terrifying cold case that ruined them all and sent the wrong man to prison.
 
 
 
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan (Apr 2016)
 
Supernatural mysteries and suburban drama collide in the early hours after the Halloween of 1988 for four twelve-year-old newspaper delivery girls, in the first installment of this graphic novel series.
 
 
 
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix (Jan 2014)
 
After strange things start happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, three employees volunteer to work an overnight shift to investigate, but what they discover is more horrifying than they could have imagined.
 
 
 
Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry (Oct 2011)
 
Injected by a prison doctor with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake after death, a condemned serial killer experiences unforeseen, contagious side effects and emerges from his grave to begin a murderous rampage that is combated by two small-town cops.
 
 
 
The Feast of All Souls by Simon Bestwick (Dec 2016)
 
378 Collarmill Road looks like an ordinary house. But sometimes, the world outside the windows isn't the one you expect to see. And sometimes you'll turn around and find you're not alone.
 
 
 
 
The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson (Oct 2017)
 
Every time she bleeds a murderer is born.

Recommendations for Teens:

 
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle (Aug 2015)
 
Every October Cara and her family become mysteriously and dangerously accident-prone, but this year is when Cara will begin to unravel the accident season's dark origins.
 
 
 
Demon Derby by Carrie Harris (Jul 2014)
 
Once a true daredevil, South Carolina high school junior Casey is in remission from cancer when a terrifying encounter at a Halloween party leads her to become a demon-fighting roller derby girl.
 
 
 
Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics (Sep 2015)
 
When Amanda Verner's family moves from their small mountain cabin to a cabin in the prairies it becomes obvious to Amanda that something is very wrong with her new home.
 
 
 
13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt (Aug 2015)
 
When Luke Manchett's estranged father dies suddenly, he leaves his son a dark inheritance: a Host of eight unique, powerful, and restless spirits. Unfortunately, Luke has no clue to how to manage them, which the ghosts figure out pretty quickly.
 
 
 
Bleeding Earth by Kaitlin Ward (Feb 2016)
 
Wishing she could just spend time with her new girlfriend, Lea struggles with the decline in humanity as an environmental disaster strikes.
 
 
 
House of Furies by Madeleine Roux (May 2017)
 
Escaping from her harsh school before finding work as a maid in an English boarding house, Louisa realizes that her mysterious employer and his staff execute cruel judgments on the guests.

Recommendations for Kids:

 
EEK! Halloween! by Sandra Boynton (Aug 2016)
 
The chickens are nervous. Witches, wizards, robots, and an alarmingly enormous mouse are prowling around town tonight, and it's up to the chickens to get to the bottom of it!
 
 
 
Herbert's First Halloween by Cynthia Rylant (Aug 2017)
 
Herbert and his father prepare for his first Halloween by making a tiger costume and practicing a big roar.
 
 
 
Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween by Melanie Watt (Aug 2013)
 
Scaredy Squirrel has put together a collection of helpful safety tips and step-by-step instructions to guide you through common Halloween obstacles.
 
 
 
Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat by Sue Lowell Gallion (Jul 2017)
 
Pig is excited about Halloween but Pug loses his holiday spirit because of his uncomfortable costume.
 
 
 
Bad Kitty, Scaredy-Cat by Nick Bruel (Aug 2016)
 
Bad Kitty is frightened by the creatures on Halloween, but when she sees all the holiday treats she decides to be a very bad kitty and chases the scary creatures away.
 
 
 
The Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea (Jul 2017)
 
A young ghost lives by a dark forest, but he's afraid of monsters and too scared to go there, inviting young readers to turn the pages and explore it on their own.
 
 
 
A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting by Joe Ballarini (Jun 2017)
 
When Kelly loses a little boy to monsters who live under his bed during her first babysitting job, she learns about a secret society of babysitters who fight monsters.
 
 
 
Monsterland by James Crowley (Aug 2017)
 
Chased into the woods by neighborhood bullies who are after his Halloween candy, fifth grader Charlie quickly gets lost and finds his way into Vampyreishtat - or Monsterland, an uncharted land where werewolves, mummies, and vampires live freely - and with the help of the Monster of all Monsters, Charlie hopes he will find his cousin who disappeared a year ago.
 
 
 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Program Planning: Walk-In, Registration, or 1 Hour Early Tickets?

So, you have planned this fantastic program. Maybe you are running it yourself, maybe you hired someone highly recommended... Either way, you think that it could be a hit and you are dreaming of a full house.

But what to do next? Should you require registration or just allow walk-ins? Should you hand out tickets an hour before the event? We look at all three of these options and give you the low down on the pros and cons, as well as share a fourth technique you don't hear about often. (This post was inspired from the YA-YAAC listserv, which we highly recommend to youth and teen librarians!)



Walk-In

The easiest way to handle program attendees. You advertise the event and anyone is allowed to attend. No sign-up necessary.

Pros:

  1. Patrons don't need to register ahead of time.
  2. No need to keep track of who is signing up and who is wait listed.
  3. You don't get no-shows!
  4. People who couldn't commit to the date early won't be discouraged from coming the day of.

Cons:

  1. You have no idea how many people to expect to come.
  2. Hard to plan material needs. Might have bought too much or too little, wasting funds or requiring rushed trips to the store during the program.


Registration

Many libraries require registration for their programs. Patrons need to sign-up ahead of time (either by contacting the library who has a paper sign-up form or online via a program like Eventkeeper) until space runs out. 


Pros: 

  1. You will know how many people to expect at the program. If not enough register, it is easy to make the call to cancel the program. You will also be able to spend the appropriate amount of money on supplies.
  2. You don't have to open the registration right away. Some libraries prefer to wait either two weeks before the event or the Friday before and then open registration.
  3. You can easily  keep track of the no-shows. If certain patrons keep registering but not attending, you can mentally count them out or make it a policy that three no-shows means they can't register anymore.

Cons:

  1. Some communities refuse to register but still come for the program. If you find that program attendance is higher for non-register programs, you might want to go that route.
  2. No-shows. Not everyone who signs up will actually come. A few ways you can remedy this: 
    1. Opening registration really close to the program date (2 weeks before or the Friday before) can help decrease the odds of no-shows.
    2. Or, if you see a pattern, you could register 20% over capacity, knowing that you'll never be 100% full.
    3. Another option is to require a $5 deposit when people register to dissuade anyone who isn't willing to commit from signing up. At the program, you can return their $5.
  3. What to do about late patrons? Should they be allowed in after 30 minutes? Should they lose their spot after 10 minutes? Make sure this is written in your advertisement.


The Big Question for Registration: Wait List or No Wait List?

When registration space is filled, some libraries allow patrons to sign-up onto a Wait List. When people cancel, the librarian will contact those on the list and offer them the coveted spot.


Pros: 

  1. It allows you to not have to officially turn anyone away. A spot may open up!
  2. If you see many names on the Wait List, you could make a second session and offer it to them.

Cons:

  1. It is labor intensive. If someone cancels and you call the first person on the Wait List, what do you do if they don't answer the phone? Keep calling people or leave a message? What if the cancellation is a few minutes before the event, do you make phone calls then? Is it worth your time to do that?
  2. It also complicates things when it comes to those who came to the event but did not register. They are willing to wait for openings, but should they be given the opportunity if they didn't join the Wait List?


1 Hour Early Tickets

Instead of requiring people to register, you can tell them to come to the library an hour early to get a ticket. Once tickets run out, they are out of luck.

Pros:

  1. Everyone who gets a ticket will hang around, so you will not have any no-shows.
  2. Because they have to come early, this gives them an opportunity to walk around your library, hopefully check out a few items or see how cool the Children's Area is!

Cons:

  1. It'll be a bit crazy the hour before the program as everyone comes for a ticket at the same time. This can be managed, though, with careful planning. Maybe you'll want someone at the door to hand out tickets instead of letting a line form in front of the check-out desk? 
  2. You'll have an influx of people hanging out at the library, which may not be ideal if your library doesn't have the space for people to wait. If you do have the space, maybe plan a few passive activities to keep the kids entertained?


Targeted Registration 

This is something I had done at my previous library that worked well. I used a Google Form for Summer Reading Registration, and after all of the usual questions, I listed all of the programs and asked them to mark which ones they might be interested in. Then, a week before the program, we emailed only the patrons who had shown interest to tell them that registration is now open. 

 Pros: 

  1. Find out people's interest in your programs right away. We found the responses were a good guide for how popular the program would be... And if there weren't a lot of interest in a program, it was best to cancel it.
  2. Allows you to target your advertising to only those interested so you don't become "noise" to the patrons and they start ignoring your emails.
  3. People are more likely to follow through with attending when they register close to the date.

Cons:

  1. Can be time intensive. We had weekly programs, so we had to send out specific emails every week.
  2. Harder to buy materials ahead of time since you open registration close to the program (though you could open registration two weeks early to prevent that).
  3. We had to create our own form on Google Forms since none of the big Summer Reading programs offered this option for listing programs. It was easy to make, though, and easy for us to later group emails together by interest.
  4. It may not work for Summer Reading, if you want them to use an official Summer Reading program like Wandoo Reader. (Who would sign up twice?) It worked for us because we used our homemade Scratch Tickets program.

Do you have any other suggestions on this topic? We'd love to hear them in the comments! Unfortunately, there is no one right answer. Try them all out and see what works best for your community. It might be a combination. The good news: you have options!