Seven new library programs to consider adding to your branch


It’s no secret that libraries have had to change drastically over the past few years — but change is something that libraries are used to. For generations, libraries have adapted to meet the needs of their users, keeping up with advancements in technology and the evolution of learning styles. Now is no different.

As public libraries continue to embrace change and seek to add new programs to their offerings, we’re here to help. For this piece, we’ve put together a list of seven library programs for librarians to consider as they think about their programming for the years ahead. 

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Setting the right foundation

The first thing to do when choosing programs for your library is to determine your goals and priorities.

  • Does your library have enough of a presence outside its walls so that people can benefit from programming remotely?

  • Is there communal feedback that you’d like to address?

  • Do you have a children's librarian on staff who can run a summer reading program or science club for children?

  • Are there local organizations your branch can partner with in order to promote mental health and wellness initiatives?

  • Does your branch have the capacity to host music or dance performances that showcase local artists?

  • Are there social initiatives that you feel your library could help promote?

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These are all questions that can help guide you as you evaluate the options below.

1. Fostering media literacy

At PressReader, we focus a lot on media literacy as we feel it’s vitally important in an age of rampant misinformation, be it in a blog post or AI-generated media. Media literacy education is essential, and libraries can play a role in ensuring that their members are equipped with it.

A free program designed to encourage internet users to think critically about the news stories and other content they consume online is a great first step. This learning can also happen alongside any digital literacy workshops that a public library might offer. 

Digital content platforms like PressReader can also help here, as they bring users a universe of content from trusted magazine and newspaper publications, empowering curious minds to expand their perspectives through content that covers multiple topic areas, languages, and regional insights. Plus, as a library, the more digital resources you have access to, the better you’ll be able to support and serve your community. 

2. Expanding opportunities for learning

Public libraries have always been a resource for anyone with a library card to enhance their knowledge and build their skills beyond the traditional school setting. As the world becomes more and more digital, there’s an opportunity to take this approach to the digital realm and equip users with self-guided learning. Self-directed online learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning or Udemy, for instance, are great resources for independent learners and students.

These and other sites like Skillshare have an ample selection of video or written material within the confines of a formal course. They cover a wide variety of topics, from creative writing and fine art to music and small-business marketing. 

3. Enhancing digital skill sets

As part of this digital evolution in the library space, these institutions have become digital shepherds, offering programs and services that set community members up for success.

Take a look at your community; there are probably numerous segments that would benefit from digital literacy programs — from families with kids or teens who need guidance on how to use the internet safely to the parents and older adults who haven’t quite wrapped their heads around how to use the smartphone they got from their son-in-law.

The public library can also play a role in helping job seekers build their skill sets and improve their chances for employment.

4. Delivering immersive experiences


With immersive experiences such as Google Expeditions or programs hosted on a virtual reality headset, public library members can visit different museums, landmarks and cultures. Participating in these experiences can help young library members build empathy and perspective without leaving their hometown, making them more connected to the world around them.

The trouble with virtual or augmented reality headsets is that they can be expensive. And with only one person able to wear them at a given time, the return on investment is much lower than a digital platform that reaches all of your users. An alternative idea is to consider less expensive headsets with slots for mobile phones, so that your patrons can create their own VR experience. 

5. Building social connections

Beyond the educational value of library programming, there’s also an important social component at play. Making friends can be difficult for adults, especially for individuals who work from home or those who are new to the city.

Library staff can help by partnering with local businesses and providing social events catered to their communities. This could look like an after-hours wine tasting event, a job fair, a board-games night for teens or an opportunity for learners of a language to practice their verbal skills.

Book clubs can be another fun way for patrons to meet like-minded readers and share new ideas and perspectives on life.

6. Promoting environmental sustainability

There is a pressing need for communities and leaders to do more to protect the planet — a need that’s made more poignant with every significant weather event. Around the world, libraries are already leading the charge and setting an example for how public institutions can contribute to these efforts.

When it comes to programming, there’s plenty a public library can do. Hosting an environmentalist in residence, for instance, can be a great way to make sustainability more accessible to members. Alternatively, having a green committee that invites people of all ages to participate in setting initiatives for the library itself can also inspire a spirit of collaboration.

7. Engaging in social justice


Protecting the environment is just one of the important conversations that librarians can facilitate — but it doesn’t need to stop there. Equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging all form part of important conversations happening in workplaces and beyond, but not everyone feels informed enough to talk about these concepts.

Consider programs and events that provide a safe space for people to discuss their experiences, learn from others and grapple with the terminology so that they can get involved in social justice initiatives in the community.

Libraries also have a responsibility to make sure that all members of the community — including patrons from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and those with special needs — have access to library services and resources.

Embracing the future starts with your patrons

There are many options to choose from when it comes to setting up new programming, and there’s going to be plenty to consider as you make your choice. While the realities of your budget and team availability will influence your decision, so too should your patron needs.

Take the opportunity to chat with to members of the community — both in person and online — and see what they feel is lacking. At the end of the day, libraries exist to serve and empower their communities, and they themselves can help shape what that looks like. 


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