Magazine article American Libraries

Pulling the Plug: How and When to Discontinue a Library Program

Magazine article American Libraries

Pulling the Plug: How and When to Discontinue a Library Program

Article excerpt

You provide great youth programs and services at your library, but there comes a time when you may need to consider pulling the plug on something. As much as we librarians want to be everything to everyone, the truth is that resources are finite.

Maybe your funding, meeting room space, or employee availability is limited. Maybe the attendance isn't there, or the staff member who supervised the service has left the branch. How do you decide to discontinue a program?

Libraries should allocate resources in the most efficient way possible. Of course, "bang for your buck" can mean something different to everyone, and attendance numbers are not the programming be-all and end-all.

"I consider any sort of enthusiastic attendance a success," says Thomas Maluck, teen services librarian at Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina. "The first anime club I started barely had a handful of participants." While word of mouth ultimately grew the program, he says, "I was happy with a smaller, tight-knit group as well."

Children and teens have a different experience at a smaller, more intimate program than at a program for a larger group. Both types of experiences are valid, depending on the priorities of your library. Qualitative outcomes, such as building skills among attendees or presenting the library as a positive space, should be weighed as you take inventory of your programs. For instance, an evening storytime might not be as well attended as your morning storytime, but if it's the only program you offer for working families, it might be worth keeping on the calendar.

Alternately, keep in mind how your programs affect staff members in addition to external customers. If a program has grown cumbersome and takes up a great deal of staff time and concentration, or if staff interest has waned, it's time to look at changes you can make to satisfy everyone. …

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