What motivated you to market your library with the "Brown Bag Lunch Series" program?
Part of my motivation was provided in my initial job description. When hiring a new director in 2013, the board made it clear that attracting new users was important to them. Our library serves the most pro se litigants in the state of Ohio and unfortunately that was keeping some attorneys away. I wanted to attract new attorney users to the library and thought programs, especially free CLE programs, would do that. Of course the public is welcome to attend, but our target audience has always been the local legal community.
How has the program been received so far, and how will you evaluate its success?
I am extremely pleased with how the program has been received so far. I try to schedule a variety of programs – legal information, book discussions, and human interest.
The legal information programs usually offer participants one hour of Ohio general CLE credit free of charge which drives up attendance. Past topics included tips for arguing in court from a 10th District Court of Appeals judge, adoption issues in Ohio after Obergefell, and freely available legal website and apps.
One of our common pleas judges (and library board member) asked to lead an annual book discussion. He has discussed Defending Jacob and The Nightingale so far. Nutshell is scheduled later this year.
Our hugely successful human interest programs have included: a local historian discussing Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, a former county prosecutor telling the history of the Franklin County Courthouse, and two common pleas staff attorneys debating both sides of the Making a Murderer documentary.
I don’t really focus on evaluating the success of the program. As long as people are attending, I’ll continue to schedule programs. The best part is that it virtually costs the library nothing. We pay the $25 CLE credit application fee, but almost all speakers volunteer their time. We usually end up with at least one attendee signing up for a library card; also, people are contacting me now asking to present a program – I definitely call that a success!
What “if only I knew!” advice would you give others wanting to replicate the program?
The best advice is to provide CLE credit for participants if possible. We did not do that initially until one of our librarians suggested it. That one free hour of credit really entices people to attend. I would also suggest advance registration for programs. People tend to come to a program if they have signed up for it – or fear there won’t be room for them.
Our first year, we offered technology programs between November and January that were not as well attended. Topics included buying tips and instruction on new technology bought or received around the holidays; however, we had such low registration that we cancelled it and haven’t offered those programs again. We do offer two programs each year on Westlaw and LexisNexis and they continue to draw a good crowd.
What’s the best way to spend a day off from work?
I am an avid traveler and so most of my days off are spent seeing the world. I have traveled to 20 different countries on 4 continents. My favorite trips include Italy and my grandmother’s family village, Switzerland, London, and Greece. I’ve also been to 34 states; some favorite domestic locations include Biloxi, MS, Austin, TX, and my hometown of Cleveland, OH. This year I have plans to visit Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Scotland.
If I’m not traveling, you’ll probably find me at a sporting event. I have been lucky to attend an NBA Finals game of my Cleveland Cavaliers and a World Series game of my Cleveland Indians last year and am hoping for a repeat this year!
What are you currently reading?
I am a multi-book reader. Right now I am listening to the latest Outlander book – Written In My Own Heart’s Blood. I came late to this series, starting my first one in 2014. The book is very bittersweet for me because, I know when I finish, I’ll have a long wait for the next one. I highly recommend listening to them for anyone interested in the series; Davina Porter narrates them wonderfully.
I’m also reading War, Spies, and Bobby Sox: Stories about World War Two at Home by Libby Fischer Hellmann, which includes two novellas and one short story. Ms. Hellmann is a personal friend of mine I met on a trip to Cuba. She was researching a future book – Havana Lost – which, I am most honored, she dedicated to me. She also writes two strong female led detective series, Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis. There are also some great stand-alone novels. Be sure to check her out.
I’m also reading September by Rosamunde Pilcher. As I said, I’m visiting Scotland later this year (mostly to scout Outlander locations) so am reading books that take place there. I just started the book so don’t have much more to say about it yet.