Audience = Priority 1
Put your audience’s needs first. That’s the message I heard in several sessions (and taught myself) at this year’s Support Staff Symposium. What does that mean, when your programs and services are already designed to help your patrons?
Story times are great opportunities to teach parents and caregivers how to teach their children. To read, sure. But there are lots of developmental steps along the way to reading. Understanding what children can do at different stages can help you tailor your story time to the kids in the room. Telling the adults what skills they can help build helps them become partners, not just passive listeners.
Library story times are serious work in early childhood literacy. They're challenging enough to do well when they're for kids of a single age, since kids at the same age will be at different developmental levels. How do you help children who are at different levels?
At the end of the Outcome-Based Evaluation (OBE) training, I was wishing we had about two more hours to work. When you start to apply OBE to a program idea, like we did at the end of the day, it's very clear where your planning isn't complete. This is really useful, but it can be a little discouraging too.
Here's a quick example of ours. SWON has gotten a number of requests for information about creative spaces in libraries. Places where library users can work on audio or video projects, build with 3D printers or other tools, and create the content libraries are well known for helping to distribute. When we talk about these ideas, we tend to focus on what the library will do: reallocate or renovate space, purchase equipment and software, get everything set up. In OBE terms, these setup tasks are called Program Activities. This is just one part of the equation.