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Programs That Failed

I confess to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have as many failures as successes as far as programming goes. Here, by reader request, is but a small sample:

Programs no one showed up for: 

  • Stuffed Animal Sleepover (would have been awesome)
Programs that I failed to plan for SO! MANY! people to show up for:
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book Party (never made it to the blog, but it was fun! Incredibly stressful when all those people walked in the door though.)
Programs that originally got good numbers but drizzled out:
  • Baby Storytime (which now that I have a baby of my own, I wish we still did!)  
Paid Performers that didn't get nearly enough attendance to justify the speaker's fee, which isn't necessarily their fault, but still: 
  • Basically any author visit we've booked, unfortunately. We don't have the money to get someone super famous and the turnouts for more minor writers are dismal. 
Overall, most of my programs go off well. There will always be something that doesn't work out as well as planned. A lot of attendance issue seem to stem from scheduling conflicts with the intended audience. So much trial and error trying to figure out what works with kids and then BOOM! a blizzard hits or the school system changes the official end time and you have to cancel or adjust.

Readers, what programs have been failures for you? 


  1. Star Wars party where I planned for about 100 and 200 kids and adults showed up, my activities were awful, we ran out of everything, and it was over in basically about 20 minutes, leaving me with annoyed parents, disappointed kids, a huge mess, and a painful bruise from a light saber.

    Elephant and Piggie Kids Club (storytime and playtime after school) - bad timing and it just never gelled.

    Free visit from the local cloggers - 2 people came and I felt horrible. Bad timing, I now know NEVER to schedule programs the week of July 4th.

    Any author visit - total agreement with you there.

  2. What happened with the stuffed animal sleepover? That's usually a killer program.

  3. No one came to my stuffed animal sleepover!! Boo. Should try it again.

  4. I agree with the author visits... and the 4th of July--especially the morning after. It was the day of our regularly scheduled summer program, but morning after is bad bad bad.

    Also, "storytellers" at our Summer Reading Club never do too well. They're always good but it doesn't have the appeal of "see a porcupine" or something.

  5. We did our first stuffed animal sleepover as a drop-in program - people dropped of the stuffed animals, got a nametag, then we took pics after we closed and they came back the next morning and got their pics and animals. great publicity for the library, although next time we need a rule that says "only small animals" because some kid dropped off a four foot stuffed tiger!

  6. When I was working as a YA librarian, I really wanted to do an open mic night for teens, but there was never any interest among the teens that came to my programs. I also wanted to do craft programs, but they weren't into that either. I had the best success with a chess tournament, a cartooning workshop, and a makeover night.

  7. Oh, yeah, I've never had a successful teen program in over four years at my current job. The closest I've gotten is two summer programs - a girls' night out and a wii/pizza party that get about 20 attendees, but mostly 11-12 year olds. TAB - miserable failure. Teen book club - 0 attendees. Twilight party - only 2 actual teens. Author - 2 teens.

  8. I'm really grateful to read about your programming failures. NOT because I want to see anyone fail but because than I feel a bit better when I have a similar program that isn't well attended.

    (For your author thing, that's the reason I've held off even attempting to book an author. Unless the person is a BIG NAME, my kids don't seem all that interested).


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