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Unit Four
Planning and Collaborating to Promote Your Programs

In Unit 1, we explored the advantages of offering library programs that are designed around best practices of informal science learning. We then considered, in Unit 2, key concepts important to understanding climate change and how it is influencing extreme weather events. Since these events often result in disasters for communities that then require critical, timely information, we looked in Unit 3 at multiple roles for public libraries during times of crisis. You now have a framework for developing a communications and collaboration plan to promote the Pushing the Limits program series in your community.

In this Unit, you will:

  • Explore marketing and program promotion strategies
  • Identify community groups and organizations for partnerships and collaboration
  • Develop a timeline for planning, promoting, and implementing the Pushing the Limits program series
  • Learn tips for working with your NOAA science partner to develop and implement the program series

Good planning leads to successful programs – and fewer headaches! Numerous planning guides, implementation checklists, and marketing templates are available through this website, and we’ll explore several of them together as you plan your event and develop the marketing.

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  • Begin by downloading the document Timeline and Checklist for Program Implementation, a checklist that will help you organize the tasks involved in planning and implementing your program series. You’ll notice throughout the website that there will often be two download icons, one for a PDF and one that will provide a MS Word document. The content in each document is the same, but you may prefer one over the other. If you’d like to print the document and work in hard copy, you may prefer the PDF. Alternatively, you can open the Word document and work on it on your computer (for printing later).arrow icons
  • Take a few minutes to review the planning checklist. You don’t need to fill it in now, but familiarizing yourself with the program planning tasks will help your progress through the rest of this unit.
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PROGRAM TIMING
Each Pushing the Limits program is designed to run 90 minutes. You can decide the order in which you want to present each of the three programs and the time interval betwen them:

  • Pushing the Limits: Change
  • Pushing the Limits: Community
  • Pushing the Limits: Strategy
  • Many libraries find that a monthly or bi-weekly schedule for a discussion-based series works best.

    As you plan the dates, consider factors that might influence attendance, including weather, community events, other library programs, or holidays. Once you’ve decided when to schedule each program, you’ll be able to work through the checklist and assign dates for each of the tasks.

    You’ll be working with your NOAA science partner as you plan and implement the programs. You each have important roles in the collaboration. During each program, your NOAA scientist will likely take the lead role in introducing the initial questions and providing a science context for the discussion as it unfolds. As co-facilitator, you will be collaborating with the NOAA scientist to plan and present the programs. Your knowledge of the community, your partnerships with local groups and organizations, and your program planning skills are all critical to the success of the programs.
     
    ROLES FOR YOU AND YOUR SCIENCE PARTNER
    To learn more about what how you and your NOAA science partner can work together, you may want to review the materials and information in the Science Partner Resource section. We’ll also cover more on roles in Unit Five.

    Now is a good time to review the recommended list of program books and select the one(s) you think will resonate best with your community. You can select one book for all three programs or a separate book for each program. The programming schedule and time between each program may influence your decision, as well as knowledge of your community’s interest in book discussions. When you have narrowed down your choices, discuss them with your NOAA science partner for his or her input. You should also review and share the Suggested Program Discussion Questions with your NOAA scientist. These discussion questions are designed to promote interesting and engaging program discussions.

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  • Download the document Suggested Program Discussion Questions, located to the right.arrow icons
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  • Download the document Program Books located to the right.arrow icons
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Launching a new project often comes with challenges, one of which can be marketing the program to your community.

Marketing your program will be an important step towards a successful event. You’ll quickly discover that as you’re marketing the programs, you’re also marketing your library.

Peggy Barber is a librarian and consultant who has worked with hundreds of public libraries on marketing and communications activities. Here, she explains why marketing is so important not just for this event, but for your library’s overall success.

UNIT 4, VIDEO 1
Marketing Your Public Programs

 

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  • To support your marketing efforts, we’ve provided a planning template. Before you begin the next section, please download the Marketing Plan template. You can use this document to develop your marketing and promotion ideas.arrow icons
  • After you’ve jotted down your thoughts, begin with the first video, below.
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Essential pieces of any marketing effort are:

  • Identifying Target Audiences
  • Building Partnerships

In the next video, Peggy Barber provides strategies for connecting with new groups and organizations in your community and expanding the library’s reach.

UNIT 4, VIDEO 2
Identifying Target Audiences

Engaging new audiences and organizations increases your library’s profile as a resource for informal STEM learning.

In Peggy Barber’s presentation, we heard about ways that the program planning involved such groups as the library board and the Friends group, as well as the Department of Natural Resources, a local college, and the city council.

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  • Take a few moments to download and complete the document, ISL Organizations and Opportunities in My Community. This document will help you identify community groups, organizations, and agencies that the library for collaboration and partnerships.arrow icons
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As you develop your strategies for promoting the programs, you may like to take a look at the marketing toolkit materials provided with each program unit. These can be found on the bottom of each program unit page.

These toolkits include posters, press releases and other materials you can customize for use in your own library. You’ll note that each Toolkit also includes some materials for the whole program series.

Now let’s get the word out using strategic communication strategies. It’s not uncommon for people to feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the large-scale challenges of climate change. For example, the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University has found that many people do not feel a personal connection to climate change. By highlighting how the issues explored in the Pushing the Limits program series may affect them locally, you are more likely to generate interest and concern. Some techniques are described in the next video.

UNIT 4, VIDEO 3
Key Message and Communication Strategies

 
Broadening your library’s role as an ISL community resource for environmental literacy doesn’t happen overnight. As you partner with different organizations and groups to plan and offer the programs – and, as these programs generate interest, discussion, and community engagement around extreme weather events and community resiliency – you will be building your library’s capacity as a vital resource for the community.

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As you develop your marketing and promotion strategies, you should also begin to plan for the program events.

The Pushing the Limits programs offer unique opportunities to bring people together for exploration and sharing. The videos and books introduce plenty of exciting topics for consideration, and your community members will have interesting thoughts and experiences to share.

  • This downloadable document, Planning Your Program Format, provides some notes for your program planning and the suggested format for a 90-minute program.arrow icons
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