By Amie Torok (Chattahoochee Valley Libraries) & Kara Rumble (Sequoyah Regional Library System)
The Adult Programming Palooza is back! It’s your library. All grown up.
If you’re not familiar with the Adult Programming Palooza, the event is a participant-driven day of learning that aims to bring library professionals from across the state of Georgia to share adult programming ideas, make connections, and solve concerns in a collaborative environment. The Adult Programming Palooza is generously sponsored by the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS), and the Georgia Public Library Association’s Professional and Continuing Education Interest Group.
The first Palooza was held on December 7, 2018, at the Sharon Forks Library in Cumming, GA and hosted by Palooza founders Angela Cortellino and Tracy Walker. Since then, Angela and Tracy graciously passed the torch for coordinating the Palooza to Kara Rumble, Deputy Director for the Sequoyah Regional Library System, and Amie Torok, Adult Services Librarian for Chattahoochee Valley Libraries.
On September 9, 2022, the Palooza was held in-person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic in Ellijay, Georgia at the Gilmer Public Library, a branch library of the Sequoyah Regional Library System. Bringing Palooza back to an in-person format proved to be highly anticipated, with attendance for the event reaching maximum capacity shortly after registration opened.
Nearly 70 participants from across Georgia met collectively to learn, meet, and share adult programming ideas. The headlining segment of the Palooza is the Speed-Date-A-Program sessions, which highlight successful programs from across the state. Eight presenters, consisting of adult services librarians across the state, the Georgia Library Association (GLA) Programming Interest Group, and the Georgia Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, shared the specifics of their programs, as well as answered questions from attendees during timed segments. Presenters provided one-sheets detailing their programs and advice on how they can be recreated in other libraries. All Adult Programming Palooza one-sheets are archived and made available on the GPLS Adult Services website.
The afternoon segments began with Rebecca Ballard, Vice President of the Georgia Library Association, giving a talk on the benefits of GLA membership followed by Mazi Robinson, renowned Atlanta-based licensed professional counselor, as Palooza’s keynote speaker. During this lunch-and-learn session, Mazi spoke on the importance of “Leading Yourself” as it pertains to the public library sphere. Additional webinars led by Mazi can be found on the GPLS Adult Services website.
The last presentation, “Boosting Beanstack for Adults,” featured Brandon West, Development Coordinator at the Independence Public Library in Kansas, and Silence Bourn, Assistant Manager of Events & Programs Department at the Orange County Library System in Florida.
Both virtual presenters shared about how they use the Beanstack app as a powerful tool for engaging adults at their respective library systems. This proved to be especially timely given that the Beanstack app is a tool that many public libraries have used with their patrons for summer reading in recent years, with the potential to develop special challenges geared towards adults.
Per Palooza tradition, the day ended with an Open Mic session where participants take part in an open forum during which they can discuss Palooza takeaways and talk through the joys and challenges of adult services programming. One participant said, “I learned so much about all of the great ideas that libraries have implemented throughout Georgia.”
Another attendee said:
I just wanted to thank you again for such a great experience! It’s not often that I get to network with librarians outside the Atlanta area, and it was so much fun visiting with everyone. We got a ton of great ideas out of it, and I look forward to implementing them!
The event proved to be a great day filled with sharing inspiring ideas and recharging as a collective of adult services librarians.
“I am so glad that we could bring Palooza back to an in-person format, where it truly shines best,” says Rumble. “It is such an encouraging time of generating support and connection in adult library service, which can present great challenges and equally great opportunities.”
“The Palooza is a much needed resource for library professionals who plan programs for adults,” says Torok. “It is rewarding to connect with others, especially in person, to collaborate and spark ideas in a supportive environment. That is what makes the Palooza special.”
Given the interest and the increasing demand for adult programs in libraries, the Palooza will hold a virtual discussion to share and plan ideas for the summer of 2023 and another in-person Palooza in the Fall of 2023. Dates and locations will be shared on the GPLS Adult Services Listserv. In the meantime, Amie and Kara invite everyone to share all things adult programming on the Adult Programming Palooza’s social media pages: Facebook, Pinterest, and the GPLS Adult and Public Services Listserv.
To learn more about the GLA, check out its website.