Friday, March 22, 2019

Highlight: Animals at Your Library

A couple weeks ago, we told you Why Your Library Needs a Reading Dog. Today, Kat is going to talk about some other ways that you can involve animals in your library programming.

Collaborating with Animal Shelters

If you can't or do a Read to a Dog program at your library, but wish you could, fear not! Some libraries are unable to have animals in the library due to policy, but are able to have reading programs at a local animal shelter. How? Well, the first step is to contact the shelter and see what they are comfortable with. You may be able to use private rooms, such as the rooms where potential adopters spend time with pets, for children to read to the animals. You might also be able to have children visit with adoptable pets near their cages, and read to them there. It's always a good idea to have advance sign-ups for these programs, and make sure that rules are clearly stated at that time, to avoid any confusion.

I have held programs at animal shelters, in which children visit and learn about the animals, and then get to play with them, read to them, and draw pictures of them. It worked out for us to hold a program each Saturday morning in July, with a different type of animal each week (dogs, cats, rabbits, and small mammals such as mice and gerbils).

You can also have visitors from the shelter come to the library. One surprisingly popular program I held was a "Meet the Bunny!" program; during school spring vacation, a volunteer from the local shelter brought two rabbits to the library to allow people to meet them and learn about what you'd need to know if you wanted to adopt one. We had over 100 people show up to meet and pet them! With such a crowd, we pulled out some rabbit-themed books to read and were able to hold their attention for a good long time.

One other way you can help is by collecting items for the shelter during Fine Forgiveness times. In addition to collecting food, you can collect pet food and cleaning supplies for a local shelter.

Programs About Keeping Animals

There are some great programs that you can do that feature animals, too! Adopt A Shelter Cat month is annually held in June, and Adopt A Shelter Dog month is in October. This would be a wonderful opportunity to invite local rescue organizations to bring information about pet adoption, and potentially even bring in a furry friend or two!

There has been a rise in the popularity of keeping backyard chickens, but how does one even know where to begin? There are plenty of online guides and books out there about this topic, but being able to speak to someone with experience could make all the difference in the world to someone who is considering it. Put some feelers out in the community and see if there's anyone local who might be interested in speaking about it.

Beekeeping is also a great hobby, particularly given recent environmental concerns. Learning how to keep a beehive can be great fun, and may even help out with the local ecology! Bonus program points if you get to try local honey, which can also help with seasonal allergies.

In Conclusion

Have you run any other successful programs with animals? Let us know here in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter!

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