Programming for New Adults

This is a follow up post to my presentation with Meg Hunt Wilson on New Adult Literature and Services at the 2015 YALSA Symposium. You can find the slides and booklists here. This portion focuses on the programming aspect.

Programming for any demographic is about responding to the needs of your community. There’s no magic bullet or fool-proof formula to reach this age group. Many of the programs you are already doing may appeal to this age group, and it’s just a matter of marketing to them.

Market to new adults where they are. In my community, they’re on Twitter, and we have a fun, lively social media presence that positions us as responsive to them and their needs. We also network and interact with businesses, organizations, and individuals that promote our events so that those new to the community (for example, college students) can find out about us).

We also blog for our local online site, the prime place where people would go for news on what to do around town.

Here are a few programs that we’ve been doing in my library that have appeal to new adults.

Volunteer Opportunities

We’ve reached out to university students to lead programs for teens. Once they’re in the library for a line on their resume or to fulfill obligations of participation in a student group, there’s an opportunity to show them the services and programs that may benefit them. For an example, check out the article about this Solar S’mores Oven program that an environmental student group did for teens at my library last summer.

I also lead a YA for Grownups book club at my library which has mostly members in this age group (but a few older members, too). Meg has lead a Young Professionals book club, as well.

In Lawrence, we’re partnering with representatives from the University of Kansas to find ways that we can serve those who live and work on campus.

We also do outreach with a Van Go!, a nonprofit that serves new adults who are not going to college, but instead learn life skills an a trade through an apprentice program in the arts. Look for organizations in your community that are serving new adults outside of college.

Game nights, Lego for Adults, karoke at a local bar, knitting club, NaNoWriMo, etc all have participation from new adults.

Meg’s Programming Ideas for New Adults

  • Beermaking (partner with local brewery or beer supply shop)
  • “Property Virgins” real estate 101 – feature NOLO books and info about pros/cons of renting versus buying; information about financing; what to look for, red flags when touring properties; paperwork/legal information
  • Car Buying 101 w/ information about financing, relevant legal documents, insurance (with state-specific requirements), etc.
  • Weeknight / slow-cooker dinners
  • Building a capsule wardrobe
  • Vintage video gaming program (NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, N64)
  • Board game program – Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride
  • Outreach to promote digital services (Overdrive, Freegal, Databases (like Consumer Reports))
  • Young Professionals Book Club
  • Organizing / downsizing / upcycling / Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
  • Debt reduction / credit cards & student loans / credit 101
  • Knitting or crocheting
  • Language learning or TOEFL classes
  • Self-Care: work/life balance, stress management, “the Brene Brown approach,” journaling, goal-setting
  • Mentor/Mentee matching with local professionals
  • Tax assistance (VITA, AARP, or other)
  • NaNoWriMo (November)

Further Resources

A workshop in early 2016 will focus on programming for new adults.

ALA offers a book on a year’s worth of programming for Millennials.

Marketing programs to Millennials from the New Jersey State Library.

Programming Librarian’s posts on ideas for programs for new adults.

Millennials: the future of the public library at Public Libraries online.

Livingston Parish Public Library has a page on their website devoted to information on serving this demographic.

Do you have resources or ideas for this age group? Share in the comments! 

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