The Who, What, Where, Why, When, and Hows of Passive Programing

Amanda Bennett, Director
Ada Public Library; Ada, OH

You may have heard the term “passive programming” thrown around lately in the library world, but what does it mean exactly? In the simplest of terms passive programs alludes to programming which requires little or no effort or money for the library’s part, with simple set up and little to no supervision. Ideal for small libraries, right?

Who benefits from this?: Everyone. As we all know, programming can be tough for smaller libraries; we don’t have the budgets or the prep time to do as much as we’d like to do, so passive programs are a win-win for everyone.

What: Passive programs can be anything that engages your audience; get creative, and if you’re not the creative sort, get Google. Search passive programs, or see a list of suggestions below.

Where: All over your library: Children’s movies, Teen minute-to-win-it challenges, speakers for all ages, and the list goes on and on!

Why: Keeping our patrons happy with and engaged at our libraries is every library’s dream, right? Being a small library shouldn’t automatically prohibit our abilities to serve our populations.

When: Whenever you can fit it into your schedule! Since passive programming requires so little effort on our part, it’s easy to make it work with and for us.

How: Start small and simple, learn what works for your library; steal ideas from other libraries, ask them what did and didn’t work. Have community members who want to volunteer their time? Ask them what they love to do and see if they’ll teach a class. If your library can’t afford something you’d like to do or use in a program try social media, ask for donations or help on your library’s Facebook page; hit up your friends whose kids have outgrown art supplies or games or Legos; ask local grocery or craft stores to make donations toward your programs.

What kinds of Passive Programs can I offer?:

·         Movie Showings

·         Family Game Night

·         Craft Bonanza: put out any leftovers crafts (great after summer reading) and any other odds and ends and let the kids get creative

·         Patron led book groups

·         Knit & Crochet Club

·         Quilting Club

·         Reading with Rover program

·         Lego-Palooza

·         Euchre tournaments

·         Minute-to-Win-it Challenges

·         Scavenger Hunts through your community

·         Scavenger Hunts at your library

·         Gnome Home: hide a gnome or other object in your library, leave clues for its whereabouts on your Facebook page

·         Toddler Playdate: set out coloring sheets, simple puzzles, Playdough, other age appropriate toys and let the kids and parents make new friends

·         Zumba or Yoga classes: get local certified teacher to donate their time and host it at the Library

·         Butcher paper Q & A wall: hang it up, post a question, and see what patrons have to say

·         Patron Book Reviews: hang the reviews around the library; teens also love the

·         Playlist your book: challenge your patrons to come up with a playlist of songs that would go great with the book they just read and loved. Post around the library

·         Put crossword puzzles or SUDOKO around the adult department

·         Leave coloring sheets and crayons in the kids department

·         Host local speakers of interest to your community

The two most important things I’ve learned since starting this job are 1. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help from your community, your patrons, and local businesses. If you’re fortunate enough to be near a university be in touch with them, many sororities and frats have to do local volunteer hours—we’ve had sorority run storytimes, and frats show up to assist us in programs. Remember, a good library is a good investment for your community! 2. Don’ be ashamed to barter. I donated our recently digitized reels of microfilm to our local genealogical society and asked in return that they come and do a lecture during summer reading. EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY!

So, what kinds of passive programs have folks done and rocked?

For more information and ideas, try checking out these articles:


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One response to “The Who, What, Where, Why, When, and Hows of Passive Programing

  1. Pingback: Puzzle Tally | Staff Blog

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