It’s the 10th post in our Canadian Libraries Spotlight series, hooray! If you’re just joining us, we invited library staff in Canada who serve children and families to write about the awesome work they are doing. This week our guest blogger is Chelsie Abraham, the Acting Associate Branch Librarian with Richmond Hill Public Library’s Oak Ridges branch in Richmond Hill, Ontario. She also blogs about library services to children and young adults over at Rock the Library. Check her out! She’s here to tell us about developing programs on a tight budget.
Let’s face it, not all of us have an infinite programming budget. Pressures to increase program attendance paired with the high cost of makerspace gadgets, small-to-medium sized libraries have to think outside the box.
My first contract as a Children and Young Adult Librarian was at Windsor Public Library’s Remington Park branch in Windsor, Ontario. Programming budget for this 1000 square foot branch for the entire year was a whopping $100. And that included summer reading! We were open 3 days a week, and we had a program scheduled everyday. Sometimes even two. We had higher program attendance than all 5-days a week branches and were neck-in-neck with the largest central location.
So, I’m here to show you that the feat is not impossible.
Programs to Run Under $5
An easy program to run in the fall/winter. Spool knitting is simple to learn and teach. There are a ton of free critter and monster patterns available on Pinterest too!
- Receipt paper spools (ask your circulation staff to save them for you!)
- Yarn donations
- Miscellaneous craft supplies such as googly eyes, felt, hot glue gun
- Optional: If you have access to a 3D Printer, have crochet hooks made!
To make the spools, glue the nails around the spool evenly with either a hot glue gun or industrial strength glue (E-6000 works best).
A weekly program to run throughout the school year.
What you Need: Shop back-to-school sales to get the biggest savings.
- Exercise Book
Give yourself lots of time to prep for this program. Exercises can be as simple as developing a character and then writing a letter to that character to writing a myth or a legend.
Tips for Buying Supplies
- Invest in reusable supplies. Some supplies such as the 1-gallon of Elmer’s Glue may be an expensive start-up, but is reusable. Try to laminate everything. If you don’t have access to a laminator, ask your local school board to do it for you. Tip: Offer a school visit in exchange for lamination. It’s a win-win for everyone!
- Ask your manager to view an office supplies catalogue. Libraries get mega discounts on their office supplies – sometimes up to 60% off the store price! It’s a great place to get construction paper, glue, and even a case for your iPad! Ask to have a programming account set up if they’re worried about budget allocations.
- Sales, coupons, and bargains. Back to school supplies are not just for kids! Pencils, lined paper, duo-tangs, and pencil crayons all go on clearance the first week of September. Freshen up your supplies for the entire year. And let’s not forget Michael’s coupons. Never shop without one!
- Sharing is caring. If you work in a multi-branch system, ask one of them to go halfers with you on supplies.
- It doesn’t have to be dollar store craft supplies. It may be $1, but not the best value. If you’re buying in bulk, sometimes it’s better spend a little more.
A big thank you to Chelsea for sharing her budget friendly programming ideas! Please leave a comment with any tips or tricks you use at your library.