Public library weekend programs engage patrons of all ages


When you consider that among the core values of librarianship (according to the American Library Association) are preserving information resources and making them accessible to the public, it's somewhat surprising that info on libraries themselves is hard to find.

When we were planning this blog post, we started out by wondering which days of the week are the busiest ones at public libraries. For the most part, the answer proved elusive, but we were able to find one very useful article from which we can extrapolate.

For "How and When People Use the Public Library", data scientist Yorgos Askalidis looked at a dataset of checkout times from Seattle Public Library over a 12-year period. He found that, consistently, the busiest day was — drum roll, please — Saturday.

Okay, that's not much of a surprise. Kids aren't in school, adults (at least the ones with 9-to-5 Monday-to-Friday jobs) are off work, and many library branches are closed on Sundays. Almost by default, Saturday is the big winner.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the programs and events libraries use to engage with patrons of all ages, from babies and toddlers to teens, adults and seniors, on Saturdays. Many library events are free of charge, but check with your local branch to confirm.

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Weekend storytime and family fun


Many libraries host interactive storytime sessions with librarians or special guests reading books to young children. They may also sing songs and lead children in crafts and other activities related to the stories.

Ottawa Public Library, for example, hosts Saturday-morning family storytimes at a number of locations, including the Beaverbrook and Carlingwood branches.

At OPL's Stittsville branch, Saturday Family Fun is a weekly bilingual drop-in program featuring a variety of activities including board games, Lego and puppet shows.

Drag Story Hour

Since its founding in San Francisco in 2015, Drag Story Hour (DSH) has since expanded to include more than two dozen chapters across the United States, with additional chapters in Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Japan.

According to the official Drag Story Hour website, DHS is "just what it sounds like" — an event where drag performers read stories to kids in libraries. (DHS events also take place in schools, bookstores and other all-ages venues.)

Per the website:

DSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.

In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where everyone can be their authentic selves! 

Author visits and readings

Libraries often invite local authors or well-known writers to give in-person talks, readings and book signings on weekends. Such an event can attract both avid readers and aspiring writers.

A few upcoming events of note at libraries around the world:

  • On September 1, British Columbia–based writer and podcaster Jason Schreurs reads from his memoir, Scream Therapy: A Punk Journey Through Mental Health, at the central branch of Halifax Public Library.

  • On September 16 at San Francisco Public Library's main branch, author and artist T Edward Bak will share his latest work Sea of Time, a "visionary tone poem" that explores the indigenous ecological traditions that influenced 18th-century naturalist G.W. Steller.

  • On November 4, prolific science-fiction and fantasy author (and former Doctor Who screenwriter) Ben Aaronovitch talks about his career so far and the latest novel in his Rivers of London series, Winter's Gifts, at the Lowestoft branch of the UK's Suffolk Libraries.

Book clubs


Many libraries organize weekend book club meetings for different genres and age groups, encouraging patrons to read and discuss books and fostering a sense of community among readers.

On the first Saturday of every month, for example, the main branch of Nashville Public Library hosts Shakespeare Allowed, where fans of the Bard of Avon read aloud from his plays. Every fourth Saturday, the same library system's Edmondson Pike branch hosts Reading in Color, a book club where patrons discuss works about people of color and written by people of color.

The book club at the Louis Riel branch of Winnipeg Public Library meets one a month to discuss a different book; September's selection is Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton.



Libraries with the space and budget can set up a makerspace, where patrons can participate in classes or explore various DIY activities, including 3D printing, coding, crafting and other hands-on projects.

In New Zealand, for instance, guitar lovers — whether they are aspiring luthiers or just players who want to keep their instrument in shape — can attend the Saturday-afternoon Guitar Care & Maintenance Hour sessions in the Auaha Makerspace at Hamilton City Library's central branch.

Over four Saturdays in August and September, the Edge Innovation Lab at Australia's State Library of Queensland hosts Queensland Architecture in Miniature. Participants will use digital fabrication techniques such as laser cutting and engraving to create a miniature piece of Queensland architecture as a book nook.

And in Singapore, the National Library Board presents classes and workshops in robotics, coding, 3D printing, sewing and more at its MakeIT labs, which can be found at various branches.

Getting the word out

In addition to posting a "what's on" calendar to the library website, library staff can promote these events through social media posts and in-branch flyers. To ensure maximum visibility, though, PressReader can help.

Libraries that offer PressReader are able to provide patrons with access to more than 7,000 high-quality publications from around the world, all on one easy-to-use digital platform, but PressReader is more than just a way to give patrons access to third-party newspapers and magazines.

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Using PressReader's Self-Pub feature

With PressReader’s Self-Pub feature, libraries can also share their own content by uploading their own newsletters, announcements and info on upcoming classes, workshops and programs to the front page of PressReader to further engage with library users.   

When libraries use Self-Pub, their patrons will be greeted by the branch's latest content as soon as they open PressReader, ensuring they see important updates and news before they begin browsing the app’s catalog of publications. The best part is that there’s no need for staff to spend their time and resources digitizing the library's collateral. PressReader does it all, all on one familiar platform.

Further reading

If you are a librarian seeking inspiration and ideas for events and programs to engage patrons, here are a few good places to start:

  • Programming Librarian (a website of the American Library Association Public Programs Office) includes a database of program ideas, sortable by budget, event type, library type and audience.

  • Focused on more movement-based activities (think yoga, chair exercises and life-sized board games), UNC Greensboro School of Education's Let's Move in Libraries is "a great place for library professionals to be inspired by, learn about and share excellent program ideas to get their communities moving".

  • Bad Art Night? Zombie Barbies? Chocolate Olympics? Giant Twister? These are among the unique ideas (most of them aimed at kids and tweens) offered by Ontarian Librarian

PressReader provides searchable, up-to-date editorial content from around the globe. Learn more about how this service can be integrated into local libraries

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