Connecting with Local Libraries: A Great Outreach Opportunity

By Gail Speckmann, National Outreach Chair

A great outreach opportunity that was cited from the recent Branch Presidents Questionnaire involved connecting with our local libraries, benefiting both parties.

A great example is the link between  the Minnesota Branch, where I am a member, and the Carver County Library System. Angela Hunt is a librarian at the Chaska Library in Carver County. She is also an active and supportive member of our branch. I credit her greatly in taking the lead to bring about a successful connection.

For many years, the Carver County Library System has made Pen Women bookmarks available to attendees of its writers events. In October 2017, a collaboration event took place in which our Minnesota Branch hosted the monthly meeting at the Chaska library. It was an informational program for community members who were interested in learning about Pen Women and what we do.

Jeanne Emrich, one of the branch members, had assembled and shown a well-done PowerPoint about Pen Women with examples of members’ work. Afterward, time was allowed for Q&A from the library audience. Our branch presented a writing and art critique and invited the visitors to participate. Refreshments were offered as well.

The library publicized the “meet and greet” in its quarterly brochure, e-calendar, Facebook, Twitter, and in the newspapers. It also invited its writers groups to the meeting through e-newsletters, and Angela extended an additional invitation to the Arts Consortium of Carver County.

Before guests arrived, Angela gave a library tour to our branch, showing the main library gallery (which hosts a different local artist each month) and sharing how to get onto that roster (free gallery space with sales potential).

She also explained how to reserve rooms and mentioned that most libraries offer nonprofits free space use and “maker spaces” to individuals and groups. This is one way to help a Pen Women branch’s budget. In addition, the library system might know about free or small-fee knowledgeable presenters whom Pen Women might be able to utilize.

The library shared its quarterly brochures with us, showing the types of programming available for us to attend. This will allow our members to determine whether they, themselves, might qualify to apply as a presenter.

Angela shared the scope of most library classes, the process of becoming a presenter for libraries, the planning timetable, and the trends in programming. She helpfully suggested that, while libraries also offer programming by people who donate their services, this could be one way in which artists, writers, and songwriters might be able to supplement income: by being a performer, demonstration artist, or teaching artist at libraries. It might also help transition a person who doesn’t yet have the “paid professional” component to become a full Pen Woman member.

Since the visit, the NLAPW Minnesota Branch has hosted its regular monthly meetings at the Edina Library branch (more centrally located for our members), utilizing its free meeting room.

Some additional thoughts to consider that we as Pen Women could explore include:

• Partner with college or university libraries for a program or project.

• Visit in person with local librarians to find out if they know women who may be good candidates to become Pen Women. Do they know of writers groups or displaying artists who might have an interest in NLAPW?

• Volunteer to work as a group with library projects as part of our outreach work.

We would like to hear from Pen Women members from around the country. Please share ideas you may have or programs that you are currently doing with libraries in your area. Send your thoughts to gailspeckmann@gmail.com. We will post these on the NLAPW website.

Much of this article is closely based on Angela Hunt’s write-up for the library after October 2017 event took place.

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