Each time I meet a new librarian (especially a children’s librarian), inevitably in our conversation the topic of programming comes up.

Of course many times it’s in the context of how Hiveclass can be a resource for summer or active programming for those who struggle with it (*wink*), but rarely does the conversation ever stay there. 

For me, programming was often the hardest part of my job. Not the actual doing of it (usually — looking at you, Minecraft Club with fifteen 9-year-olds) but more the planning of it. 

For a little over two years, before transitioning to Hiveclass, I worked in the Children’s Room of a small library in a busy seasonal community on the East End of Long Island, New York. During the fall and winter seasons my patrons consisted of locals who lived in the area — many with roots that were planted generations ago, and most of whom grew up frequenting the very library I worked at. Planning programming for them was often a breeze because I knew the families, had plenty of opportunities to get to know the kids individually, and could use that knowledge to plan things with them in mind. 

During spring and summer, however, the warmer weather always brought with it visitors from around the world; many would stop by the library looking for a quiet respite during the weekdays or a short break from the hot beach on the weekends. Those local families that I relied on during the cold months would inevitably leave the island to escape the crowds and traffic and suddenly I’d be left to plan programming for kids and families that I knew nothing about and would likely never see again after a visit or two. 

Of course, I know I’m not alone in this struggle. Anyone who works in a similar seasonal community or a mid-sized or larger library system faces the same problem year round, not just seasonally – why else would there exist such a surfeit of programming resources for librarians to use?

And it’s also why I created one of my own. 

Because I understand how difficult it is to plan programming when you want to do something new and fun but never really know what your patrons will respond to. 

Because I know how overwhelming, and maybe annoying, it can be when your director hands you a new digital resource and says “find a way to use it”.

Because I’ve been there when summer rolls around and all my kids leave for summer camp or sports camp because they want to have fun with their friends outside and the library isn’t traditionally the place to do it. 

For me, there’s one answer to all of those challenges: Active Programming. 

We all know the concept of passive programming and active programming is not the direct opposite. In fact, active programs can be passive.

Active programming is simply anything that gets kids moving and engaging with their bodies in any way – developing those motor skills that we all care so much about and strengthening their interpersonal skills as they interact with other kids and/or families. 

It can be a quick game of Keepie Uppie with a balloon (fans of Bluey know what I’m talking about) or it can be an obstacle course drawn in chalk on the sidewalk outside. 

It can be a scavenger hunt in your library’s green space (if you have it) or it can be a STEAM program with papier-mâché using recycled materials. 

It can be a game of musical chairs or a game of hide and seek.

In each of these examples, kids of all ages are encouraged to use their bodies and engage with their surroundings in a way that emphasizes play. Subconsciously they learn that being physically active can be fun and doesn’t have to be relegated to things typically thought of as “exercise.” This, in turn, sets them on the path for a lifetime of enjoyment of being active and healthy. And honestly, don’t we want kids to play more instead of sitting in front of a screen all day? Let’s bring back the days of fun play time!

My hope – my goal (*wink*) –  is that library programming can be looked at as not just something to do for stats, but also a low-pressure way to introduce concepts of personal growth and health at an age where they can be most impactful. Libraries, like many other industries, are constantly evolving and adapting to new demands, trends and expectations. We’re here to offer support and provide a solution that elevates library offerings and breaks the mold with creative, unique active programming. 

To learn more about how Hiveclass can benefit your community, or how you can incorporate active programming into your schedule please contact us. You can also follow us on Instagram and Twitter where we share highlight videos, programming ideas and so much more. We look forward to meeting you soon!

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