Friday, September 7, 2012

The Great Registration Debate

Our guest blogger today is Amanda Struckmeyer, a YSS member from the Middleton Public Library.

In our Youth Services department, we’ve gone back and forth on asking patrons to register for programs.  If we require registration, it creates more work for our staff and fosters a possibly stressful situation for families who might not plan as far ahead as we do.  On the other hand, if we don’t ask for registration, we have no idea of how many participants to expect, which makes preparation tricky.  We’ve finally settled (for now!) on this system:

·         If we’re serving food at a program, we ask for registration.  This allows us to buy the appropriate amount of goodies, and it gives us a chance to ask about food allergies.

·         If seats are truly limited, we require registration.  An example is our Dungeons and Dragons club, which is limited to ten ‘tweens.  We simply could not possibly accommodate more than ten. 

·         We don’t require registration for any programs that don’t involve food and are not truly limited to a specific number of participants.  This has made our lives- and the lives of our patrons- easier.  In preparing materials, we simply prepare more than we think we’ll need.  Chances are, we’ll have a chance to use any leftover materials again, either in a repeat of the program or something similar.  Many grown-ups who bring their children to storytimes have commented on how much they like our drop-in structure.  They appreciate the freedom to come as their often-changing schedules allow, and they enjoy not being tied to one particular day and time. 

Of course, this system is not perfect, but it works for us at this point in time.  One beautiful part of working at a public library is being able to constantly adjust and try new things to find out what works and what we can improve upon. 

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I got rid of registration when I came to my current library four years ago. Everyone was thrilled and a lot of bad feeling about the stringent registration requirements went away. Now, due to the rapid growth of our programming, I'm easing us back into registration. I hate to do it, but one summer of running programs for 100-200 people ON MY OWN and seeing 75 kids and parents try to smoosh into our storyroom (fire capacity 85 and that's before you add the tables) has convinced me. Hopefully our patrons will understand...