Carmel-Clay Public Library

Design Decisions

Knowing your target audience is a basic tenet of successful program design. Every library district has a unique regional economy. Money: from A to Z at the Carmel-Clay Public Library began with a plan to offer a standard twelve-part speaker series for adults and youth. Based on patron feedback and participation levels, however, staff quickly modified that game plan. They created activity-based programming that went beyond run-of-the-mill workshops and appealed to the area’s teens and adults.

“We got creative and started to rethink our initial programming ideas,” said Reference Librarian Brian Barrett. “We focused on creating engaging programs about money and finances to capture the interest of both adults and young adults.”

Dine on a Dime

dimeDine on a Dime for teens was the most popular program in the retooled schedule. Kids met monthly at the library after school to prepare tasty treats. A new recipe card each month led to teens in grades 6–12 cooking, socializing and discussing food costs. Library staff offered a practical lesson teens could use immediately—comparing the cost of homemade and store-bought snacks. The recipes were all easy to prepare on-site using small appliances such as a blender or toaster oven. The library also created teen volunteer opportunities leading to afterschool drop-in financial literacy programs. The monthly Dine on a Dime program tripled teen program attendance.

Lessons Learned

• “Staff buy-in was critical to program success, and monthly team meetings enhanced ownership of the project,” said Barrett. “Quantifying success and measuring effectiveness against programming and marketing goals took on heightened importance for staff.”

• “Flexibility is critical,” continued Barrett. “Staff advocated for alternative methods. We modified our plans and were able to reach significant numbers of patrons.”

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