Many of you may have programming responsibilities as part of your job duties. That doesn’t mean that you always have to be the person who generates the programming ideas. Partnering is a great way to generate fresh, fun and informative ideas. Here is my experience in programming partnership that has resulted in an increase in overall programs hosted by the library.
There are experts all over campus who are researching a variety of topics and are interested in presenting their findings. Locating them is the tricky part. This is where partnering comes into play. I have a wonderful colleague, who has been on campus for several years, and knows practically all of the faculty and staff. He is also an idea generator, and partnering with him has been one of the best things I could have done. He thinks up the programming topic and finds a speaker, and I coordinate the event set-up and marketing.
When we began our programming partnership, I was only in this job for six months, didn’t know anyone outside of the library, and was struggling to generate program ideas. My colleague came up with a “Listening Party” event theme. Speakers would be asked to come in and talk about their favorite genre of music. It could feature a certain musician, or time frame, whatever they were interested in. I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but I figured it was worth trying. Our goal was to provide a positive experience in the library, and encourage others to share their interest in music.
Our first Listening Party was held in the fall of 2010, and we hosted three that semester. All of the listening parties are held at Noon, and attendees are encouraged to bring their lunch. Attendance grew as word spread, and by the last event that semester, we had others approaching us to host their listening party. To ensure that we offered a variety of programming, we decided to host the listening parties during the fall semesters. In the fall 2011, the number of Listening Parties increased to six. Attendance continued to grow and the variety of music was presented, from punk music, to Warren Zevon, to protest music. Participants listen to music, enjoy their lunch, and learn a little something about the musician or genre.
The listening parties are an example of the positive programming that can be established by collaborating and partnering with others. My colleague and I complement each other’s strengths and have built a successful programming partnership that benefits the library and the campus community. It has been, and continues to be, a positive experience for all. I would encourage all of you who have programming as part of your responsibilities to look around you, and seek out that person whose expertise augments yours, and partner with them. A successful partnership reduces your stress and increases the success of programming.
Tammy Sayles is the Marketing and Outreach Librarian at Western Illinois University.