Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Publicity blues

The library and museum where I work is what could be diplomatically called a "well-kept secret." We're smack dab in the middle of a busy park, but with limited hours keeping us closed during the week and a lack of signs saying explicitly "Yes we're open! Come on in!" (which is in the process of being rememdied), we don't get a lot of people. Which is a shame, because the people who do come in are invariably impressed. We tend to hear a lot of "I went to this library all the time when I was a kid, but I didn't realize you're still open." Sigh. So as much as we value our core of (ancient, slightly dusty) regulars, we keep looking for ways to bring more people in.

One way is through children, and I plan to get on starting a story time once my knees stop quaking in terror at the thought. I'm not sure if I'm more scared that no one will show up or if they will. I think a Friday afternoon story time has the potential to be very popular, since one of my eternal frustrations is that every single story time in this part of the city is on Tuesday morning (the children's librarian at 's branch is talking about starting up a story time - I plan to get down on my knees and beg him to choose any time other than Tuesday morning). I don't know what's so popular about Tuesday morning, but clearly some sort of diabolical hive mind is at work here. Now that I think about it, since the public schools often have inservices on Friday afternoons and the public preschool never meets Friday afternoons, Friday afternoon is an excellent time to try and lure in kids with their parents in tow.

All I have to do is get past the tiny insignificant fact that I went to library school planning to be a cataloger in an academic library and have absolutely no training in children's services. And did I mention I wanted to be a cataloger partly because I'm shy and introverted and didn't want to deal with people? *brave gulp* Well, I suppose new challenges are good for the soul, even if they're hard on the nerves.

I had what might be a brilliant idea yesterday afternoon. A lot of public libraries have had success with hosting knitting circles. There are currently over 500 members of only one of the Philadelphia area groups on Ravelry. Surely there are enough people on Ravelry living in the Northeast that would like a knitting circle they didn't have to brave Center City traffic for that I could get something going at the library. My initial unscientific research of scanning the introduction posts revealed that there are enough people living in Elkins Park (the suburb immediately to the west of us) alone to get a decent sized group together. So ideally, I could get 15 or so new people to come in, perhaps take a tour while they're there, wow them with the fantastic architecture, they would go home and tell all of their friends and family about us and hey presto! Instant popularity, fame and fortune. Or maybe not. But 15 people is often as many people we get in two days, so just getting that many in on a semi-regular basis would be a huge achievement.

Of course, there are some days I think it would be nice to continue languishing in anonymity. It certainly makes for a more relaxing day at work.

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