Like many libraries in the wake of COVID, we found getting people to our programmes a struggle. This was the perfect opportunity to review our programmes and propose new and innovative ways to inspire engagement with the library. Our principal focus was on families, communities, and the 10+ age group which had the largest drop in attendance.
We implemented new programming from July, testing the waters and gauging interest. This fed into our planning for the summer holiday programme. Our aims were to provide programmes for children of all ages and activities for the whole whānau. Accessibility to all, an important cornerstone of our library strategy, and taking programmes into the community were also important.
Our Summer Reading Programme theme this year was “the beach,” and many of our activities featured this theme. We brainstormed potential events, and invited individuals and organisations to collaborate, planning the long holiday period to ensure varied activities targeting all age groups were featured weekly. Funding from Eastern and Central Community Trust supported the running of our reading programmes and associated activities.
ACTIVITIES, ENGAGEMENT AND OUTCOMES
The Adopt a Shell programme was a summer-long initiative, where children issuing a book could choose a shell to adopt and read to each day. The response was staggering, with more than 300 shells finding new homes. Mermaid Ria’s Storytime saw over 80 tamariki enjoy stories, songs, and the chance to meet a real-life mermaid. Our Code Cracker saw many tamariki search the library for clues to decode a beach-themed message. At our busy Green Screen sessions, families could choose a beach-themed backdrop for their photo.
Several events were held for families to enjoy together, including after-hour activities. Our daytime All Blocks Lego® sessions were well-attended, with many families building together. Participants then chose a beach-themed background for a green screen photo of their creations. Our Family Summer Quiz night was a lively occasion Issue 495 17 enjoyed by fifteen teams. The Family Board Game night, held in collaboration with the Hawkes Bay Geeks Guild, saw more than 30 attendees entertained by a range of games. We were fortunate to have Suzy Cato visit us, with over 600 excited people attending her events. The scheduled Teddy Bears’ Picnic became an indoor Storytime due to bad weather but was still wellattended by tamariki and their toys. Twenty-four toys stayed for a sleepover and got up to lots of mischief! The tamariki enjoyed collecting their photo booklet of the sleepover antics.
Teens and tweens
We ran two Escape Rooms through the holidays targeting this age group – Wizards' Academy and Library Quest. Positive word-of-mouth resulted in fully booked sessions. The Wizards’ Academy debuted during the October holidays and was repeated in the summer due to the 30-team-long waiting list!! Our Murder Mystery was a riot, with 13 participants grilling suspects and examining evidence to find out who killed famous author Bill Shakesbeard. Additionally, we ran workshops in sewing, tee shirt bleaching and accessory-making which were all at capacity.
Providing exposure to varied technologies has long been one of our aims. Virtual reality has been a popular recent addition to our programme, with children registering for 15-minute sessions enjoying their choice of experience. Additionally, we offered sessions with Dash robots, and Stop Motion and Movie Making workshops. All these programmes were easily run and generated waiting lists.
Out and about in the community
To connect with those less likely to visit the library in person, we planned three days of events in the community revolving around our mobile library, featuring activities such as scavenger hunts and rock painting. Keeping to our beach theme, we also teamed up with our friends at the National Aquarium of New Zealand for “Library by the Sea”, involving a rocky shore scavenger hunt. Our ever-popular Storywalk® also returned with seven stories in two locations. We were pleased with the overall success and attendance of these days, proving that going into the community builds connections.
Overall, we were happy with the programme content, attendance and feedback received, and all our aims and objectives were met. Sadly, the weather impacted on some outdoor events resulting in some rejigging to ensure activities could be run indoors. Next time, we would include thorough wet-weather back-ups in our planning stage. We also hope to streamline new activities such as the Murder Mystery to make them even better experiences for all. Additionally, we underestimated preparation and running time for some first-time events. An example was our Teddy Bears’ Sleepover when our after-hours photo session took longer than anticipated. Our learning from this is to overestimate timings for new activities, and to ensure ample preparation time for events to deliver the best event possible.
Napier Libraries have a dedicated community engagement team of five who have a passion for libraries and the community. Team members Keelie Nye, Holly Weston and Kat Emsley were also instrumental in the planning and delivery of this holiday programme. email@example.com