Ask a Storytime Ninja: Promoting Storytimes

I’m sure many of you have strategies to share for this one so don’t forget about the comments space!

Question:

My question is about publicity.  I have started a Tiny Tots program for babies up to 12 months and their caregivers.  It’s lots of fun, and a wonderful way for new parents to meet each other, but I’m having a tough time actually getting the parents to sign up.

I know it’s winter, and I know it’s hard to take a new baby out of the house, but I also know what a great time they’ll have if they actually get here.  I publicize in our newspaper, at the library, through email blasts, and Facebook but sign ups are still challenging.

Do you have any other thoughts about how to reach new parents?  Thanks so much for any and all help!”

Answers:

Abby (@abbylibrarian) says: I wonder if parents with very young kids are a little hesitant to commit to a program and that’s why they’re not signing up? Would you consider doing the program as a drop-in? We’ve been doing our baby storytimes as drop-in since the start and that’s worked well for us. Parents know they can come when they can come and if they can’t make it out or if baby is sick, it’s not a big deal to miss.

Also, one place to consider advertising is with teachers. Would your local school system be able to blast out an email to their teachers? Our school administration will do this and we find that a LOT of the parents bringing their babies out to storytime happen to be teachers. Even if the program is during the day, some of them send their kids with grandma & grandpa and we also get some teachers bringing their little ones to our afternoon session. Sending the info to school PTOs for their newsletters might be another avenue to try.

Angela (@annavalley) says: Sometimes I try to connect with daycare providers to advertise storytimes, and also any Family Resource Centres or groups that serve young families. Doctor’s  offices as well — think about where young families have to go and where they might be sitting and waiting or where they go for services, and partner/make connections with those groups or places. For instance, we have a New Mom group here that is run by the hospital staff- those are the places that I try to connect with.

And remember that it takes time to get a program going, Word of Mouth is often your best friend, so stick with it!

Anne (@sotomorrow) says: I recommend whenever you see a parent with a young child in the library that you talk up the program to them and invite them personally. I also really encourage you to tell them it’s fine if they can’t make it every week. I’m a children’s librarian and my husband is a stay-at-home dad and our 19-month daughter still only makes it to baby story time (ours is for kids under 2) about 50-60% of the time due to various things like the weather, doctor’s appointments, illness, bad moods, etc.

A lot of areas have Facebook pages for the community that get a lot of traffic. For example, we have a regional moms’ page that posts events for families so look around and see if you have something similar in your area. I’d also reach out to your MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) chapter if you have one.

Even with a ton of publicity, signups might be a challenge. I’d hang in there though as most people will come to you via word of mouth.

Leona (@layleevj) says: You have listed the main ways I publicize programs at my library. But maybe you could reach out to local hospitals, OB/GYN offices, Pediatric offices, and daycares? All of these places have new parents and usually don’t mind putting out brochures or flyers relating to babies/kids.

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One thought on “Ask a Storytime Ninja: Promoting Storytimes

  1. Jess

    This time last year we were attempting to increase our attendance to our early literacy play space and we tried many of the things suggested above, but some of the others we tried included hanging flyers/handing out brochures in grocery stores, dentist offices, WIC centers, laundromats, Y centers and having the local hospitals include information in their new mommy kits. You may also try attending any local “Rallies for Health” or similar activities that your local schools or hospitals may hold.

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