Libraries are the Heart of the Communities They Serve
At their core, libraries are places that anchor community life and bring people together, which is why taking advantage of the entirety of your space is crucial to stay relevant and useful for your patrons and library-goers.
Rather than expanding outwards, libraries need to start thinking internally. More specifically, focusing on room reservation and management. By having access to an online room management software (such as LocalHop’s room reservation tool), providing useful spaces for a variety of functions will be easy for you and appreciated by your patrons.
Take advantage of your library’s existing real estate by considering these five simple steps.
Step One: Ask Your Patrons What They Need, and Make it Happen
While meeting areas and additional rooms for extra-curricular based activities are definitely needed, reaching out to your patrons and other members of the community to confirm your suspicions is important. Your target audience is who you’re aiming to accommodate, so understanding what they are specifically looking for from their library is key to your success. You can obtain this information from resources such as a library newsletter, email survey, social media poll, or from your own experience.
For example, if boy scouts and girls scouts are active within your community, extending the offer to host their meetings and activities in your space would be ideal. Maybe your community members would be interested in monthly movie nights at the library, or students may need a private space to study for finals. Whatever the case may be, determining what the needs of your room spaces are is the first step.
Step Two: Determine Your Space Capacity
When it comes to physical gathering spaces, you know the ins and outs of what your extra library space can offer patrons, local businesses, and other organizations. But, considering the potential of hidden or closed off to the public spaces of your library can significantly expand your capacity limits and overall functionality. For example, if you have a common area that could be sectioned off from the rest of the space, that totally counts! Maybe there are a couple of smaller rooms that function as storage spaces but could easily be cleaned and converted into offices. All libraries have potential reservation spaces, you just need to know where to look and get creative!
Additionally, you don’t need a space the size of an auditorium for your community to gather at the library. Having a range of room sizes, from small to medium to large to extra large (if warranted), is great for versatility and different purposes. Consider the following questions early on in your process to aid your promoting efforts when the time comes:
- What is each space’s capacity?
- What possible layout configurations (chairs and tables), can each space accommodate?
- Is the space private, semi-private, or publicly visible?
- Are there power sources in each space? If so, or if not, what power sources will each space need?
- Will patrons need any sort of media equipment? If so, what types of equipment will be needed?
Step Three: Brainstorm Ways to Expand the Uses of Your Library and its Available Spaces
While you and your library staff recognize the library you serve as an active community hub, many patrons and community members don’t realize that— yet. By offering reservable rooms as an option for people within your community, your library is providing an excellent opportunity to broaden their ideologies of what your establishment has to offer them. In turn, this will give you a chance to bring in new audiences that have never stepped foot inside your library doors.
If you’re thinking about what types of events could be hosted within your reservable spaces, don’t worry, we’ve brainstormed some ideas for you:
- Parties and gatherings for friends and family: Whether it’s a birthday extravaganza, a work holiday party, or even a baby shower, many of your pre-existing patrons and potential newcomers are always on the lookout for a hosting space that’s cost-friendly and fun.
- Presentations and studious prep: One of the best parts of being integrated into a community is seeing small businesses thrive and operate on an up close scale. Much like larger companies, small businesses have goals and roadmaps that they’d like to follow, but have much less space and resources to do so. That’s where your library comes in. Offer a professional looking space with adequate equipment to your local community-goers so they can pitch their ideas, roadmap their business plans, and make connections with potential investors. Students (whether it be from the local highschool, college, or if university attendees are home on break) always need a quiet place to study. Offer up your library as their saving grace!
Mutual interests and common ground are what brings communities together, so why not make your library the primary hosting space? If it’s movie nights or kid scouts, arts and crafts or religious studies, club-house meetings or book club, your library can be a true community hub.
Step Four: Promote and Share Your New Spaces with the Community
After determining what spaces your library has to offer as well as knowing what they can be used for, you can then spread the word in a variety of ways that will get your establishment noticed. Post flyers at your local grocery stores, arrange to speak at a town hall meeting to establish exactly how your library can meet the community’s needs, and even visit surrounding college campuses to hand out flyers and infographics to students and student groups. The main objective is to be as versatile as possible, so ensure that you are promoting your spaces as such.
Step Five: Fine Tune Your Room Management
After you’ve gathered enough feedback to configure your spaces, deem what spaces are reservable at your library, built a roadmap for new uses and users, and advertised them to your community and patrons, it’s finally time to refine how you manage these spaces to maximize your time and investment.
Prior to significant technology advancements, companies and organizations typically managed room reservations by writing down everything on paper. Obviously this is overly time consuming, inefficient, and can easily be lost or misplaced. LocalHop’s Room Reservation helps library staff and patrons alike get the most out of reservable spaces.
Simplifying all of your room management and bookings with Room Reservation, LocalHop’s Room Reservation software can be used on its own or fully integrated for a seamless experience with any of our other event management tools. Libraries can manage all of their internal and external spaces, equipment, room rentals, and payment processing in a single, easy-to-use dashboard. LocalHop room reservation saves your library time and keeps your staff organized.