During our expansion (from Coast 2 Coast), we sent out a survey to 40 new library facilitators about their interests and concerns about learning circles. According to our survey results, their greatest worry about learning circles is that learners won’t show up or stay engaged.
“The only challenge I’m worried about is low attendance, which is a consistent issue with classes at the library.”
“As with all library programs, attendance is a big unknown and finding the right people to market this program to will be challenging”
“I already scheduled a learning circle at my location, but no one registered.”
Sound familiar? It’s certainly something that many libraries and community centres deal with. Actually, I think we all feel sometimes that no one will show up to their event (or their birthday party… I forgive you, Mom). Thinking about this issue, I was reminded of the first step to running learning circles, as noted in the facilitator handbook, “know your community”.
Some libraries have also benefitted from doing additional research into what kind of courses might work best in their community. For example, we like to encourage learning circle facilitators to try “The Q Method” – named after Q from the Detroit Public Library – who created an easy and fun way to survey her library patrons:
“[Q] created a poster board with a list of online courses that P2PU has used in the past for learning circles and stood it up near circulation with a pack of stickers. Over the course of a month, patrons wandered by and put stickers next to the courses that they’d be interested in participating in a learning circle. The most popular courses would become learning circles in the new year.” – Detroit Blog Post 12/2016
Still, getting people in the door is not an easy feat. Expecting librarians to be researchers and marketers on top of their own busy schedule might be too much to ask.
To respond to concerns like these, we hope our community forum will be a space to share best practices and help each other reach potential learners better. Have an approach to getting people in the door? Join our forum and let us know what works.