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Creating an Adult Speaker Series (in a Tiny Library with Zero Budget)

Man standing behind a microphone

My library is in the tiny town of Fenton, Iowa. To garner a bit of perspective of just how tiny of a community we are talking, the nearest gas station is 13 miles away, groceries and job opportunities are 30 miles, and we are equal distance from Des Moines and Minneapolis/St. Paul, which will take you 2.5 hours of interstate, if you don’t stop to see the sights.

No school in town. No elder care facility. No bustling main street. Remote, yet we still pursue quality programming. 

3 Ways to Build Partnerships at Your Small Library

Two people working at laptops

There are plenty of reasons for libraries to collaborate. Partnering with other organizations and people increases your resources, increases your reach, promotes creativity, models teamwork for others, and helps your community work toward common goals. Lest we forget, libraries have a lot to offer our partners, too; we are trusted, well situated for exposure and usually pretty competent in marketing our programs and services.

Wellness Wednesdays in Winterset: Lunch & Learns and More!

Selfie of participants in walking group

Winterset is a community of 5,120 in central Iowa, about 40 miles outside Des Moines. Since 2011, a number of our local organizations have collaborated to present Wellness Wednesdays in Winterset, a program series that strives to improve the health and wellness of our residents. Programs run from early May to late October and are free of charge and open to all ages.

Small-Town Library, Big-Time Author: How a Town of 240 Lucked into a Visit from Elizabeth Berg

cprice's picture
Author Elizabeth Berg hugs a girl at her Meservey Public Library visit

When I started as library director in March 2015, I made a list of programs, fundraisers and events that I wanted to plan at some point. The list was pages long and included things like an outdoor potluck, a dinosaur park and an '80s-themed prom. About halfway down the list I wrote “Elizabeth Berg book signing – LOL.”

That's "LOL" as in "That's hilarious. Why would a bestselling author visit our little library?!” Little did I know that only a few years later, I would be welcoming Elizabeth Berg herself into our tiny town.

Small Library, Big Community: Soup and Sound

Patrons at Slater Public Library share a meal and prepare to listen to entertainment at Soup and Sound

At Slater (Iowa) Public Library, we find that it's usually tough to get adults to attend programs. But we have also seen a few notable exceptions, one of which is our Soup and Sound program. As the name suggests, this consists of serving a meal and providing entertainment to attendees. Soup and Sound is not only popular — it's fun, community-building, and we've been able to cover our program costs with donations.

Size Doesn't Matter: Transforming Big Ideas into Small Library Environments

If you’ve ever heard about a fantastic library idea from a super-big library and thought, “There’s no way I can make that idea work in my understaffed, underfunded small library,” think again! This presentation celebrates all things small and shares big ideas that work in small libraries.State Library of Iowa logo

Participants of this session will:

Big Programs, Little Budget: Forging Community Partnerships in a Small Town

Meservey, Iowa, is tiny — fewer than 250 residents —  and the library’s budget is tight. Despite this, the Meservey Public Library has managed to triple its program attendance in the past few years and create many memorable, budget-friendly events. 

Drawing on her experience as director of the Meservey Public Library, Chelsea Price will share ideas for hosting "big" programs on a small budget and discuss how partnerships can be an invaluable resource for programming. 

Participants of this session will:

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