I decided to start my last full day at the conference with the Alt + Library: off-beat programming for the on-trend customer session. I was expecting it to be, well, off-beat, but I was not expecting to do punk-rock aerobics at 8:00 am; although I had a big muffin for breakfast this morning, so I guess it was a nice way to burn a few extra calories.
This session was utterly different than anything I’ve attended so far. Besides the punk-rock aerobics, which I have to admit made the idea of aerobics actually sound fun. We did speed-friending. What is speed-friending, you ask? Well, it’s a lot like speed-dating except you are trying to make a new friend, not land a date. There were three different speed rounds and we were supposed to brainstorm cool and innovative programming ideas for our libraries, but a lot of us just laughed awkwardly at our newly found friendships.
The presenters, Jessica Zaker and Lori Easterwood of the Sacramento Public Library took us through all of the programming they do for their 20-30 something patrons. The library hosts programs like “Bookclub in a bag” where they bring off-beat or little known, but in their opinion great reads to local bars and coffee shops and host their meetings there, rather than in the library. As Easterwood clarified, “We’re trying to be cool.”
They also do “Bad Art Night” where they find odds and ends around the library and their homes and create the ugliest art they can: “It’s a great way to use up all of that crap in your closet. The night is about encouraging people to make really bad art,” explained Zaker.
The best part about the alt + library programming? It’s free for patrons and cheap for the library: “I try to keep our cost under $1.50 per person, any more than that and I start to get a little nervous,” said Easterwood. “Most of the time when we’re hosting a program or demonstrating a craft or technique it’s just the Jessica and Lori show. ”
Zaker also hosts monthly exercise classes in the library, which are all centered on one theme – you guessed it – punk-rock. She hosts aerobics, Pilates, and is considering adding yoga to her repertoire and on occasion she switches up the music: “We did hair band aerobics once and it was really popular. I had a bunch of business men in stretch pants and Def Leppard t-shirts singing along to all of the songs. ”