Give Church Members the Gift of Time with a Library Media Club

In need of a timely event to promote your church library and provide an incentive for church members to use their library more often? Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for everything. Maybe it's time for your library to host a media club with a theme of . . . time! These timesaving steps can help you create a library event that is remembered for some time to come.

Schedule the event

Plan well ahead of time, and in a logical sequence. Winter media clubs that begin after Christmas work well for many libraries, and the beginning of a new year seems appropriate for a whimsical look at time. A summer media club, when time is often more available, could also work well. Decide on dates-duration and specifics-and schedule the event on your church calendar.

Prepare for enough personnel

So that all participants will feel the library has time for each person, enlist volunteers to supplement your regular library staff.

Choose a target group

Consider carefully the target group to involve in the media club. The theme of time works well with any age group. Many decisions about the event depend on the age of the chosen participants. A family media club is fun for the whole church and is more easily designed-especially as the theme can be adapted to each family member.

Select a name

Choose a name for the media club, appropriately related to time. The name is critical to choosing media, developing a logo for promotion, and planning for each step through the celebration at the end of the club.

Assess your media

Search the collection for media related to the categories of time you have chosen. The structure can be reading, listening, or viewing within designated topics. More important to the growth of those who participate is an outline of suggested topics to guide the media users through their library experience. List categories, and give ideas of the appropriate content for each category. A categorized mediagraphy is a good guide for participants.

You may want to select several categories from the following areas, or add your own ideas:

  • Time with God
  • Time to enjoy His creation
  • Time to seek a new interest
  • Time to learn a new skill
  • Time to explore a new hobby
  • Time to meet Someone New
  • Time to listen
  • Time to discover
  • Time to travel
  • Time to study
  • Time to play
  • Time to share with others

Set rules

  • Determine how many areas and how many items in each area are needed for each participant.
  • Determine how long selections can be kept, based on the size of your collection and the expected number of participants. A two-week circulation period may be too long if the quantity of media is limited.
  • Set a minimum number of pieces of media to experience to receive recognition for participating.
  • Keep the effort a unified experience with no individual competition.

Prepare forms and handouts

  • Design a registration form for participants. Collect enough information so that you can contact participants if media are overdue or you have other concerns.
  • Prepare an information sheet to give to each participant with the rules and required categories (and respective content) clearly outlined.
  • Create sheets for participants to keep track of their own time excursion progress.

Take time to promote!

Build anticipation by revealing a little about the club each week through carefully designed visuals, sounds, or a video — all using the logo. The logo becomes basic to designing the visuals for keeping records, bookmarks, newsletter announcements, decorating the library during the club dates, designing participation certificates, and even for the celebration at the end of the club. The logo becomes an identity to hold the event before the church.

  • Start by placing clues around the building without explanation. Use numbers and words representing units of time, time-wasters, or tools for time management on posters, hanging mobiles, signs on stair risers, or tent signs on tables. Another possibility is a poster with this riddle about time:
    It has no beginning and no end
    It can be stretched but not reused.
    It can only be spent once.
  • Closer to the club's launch, make verbal announcements in appropriate groups or classes
  • Begin to make the library look like a "time" place. Use symbols, such as watches, clocks of all kinds, sundials, hourglasses, calendars, time organizers, date books, and even library dates
  • Gather time idioms and familiar phrases from a dictionary, and post them around the library space. Examples include: "all in good time," "part-time," "double time," "kill time," "serve time," "on time," or "out of time."
  • Use the display window or a table to draw attention with a collection of timepieces.
  • A super-size theme visual will be an obvious focus of attention — the centerpiece of the promotion during the club. Record each piece of media experienced by the participants by placing an appropriate symbol (time related, of course) on the visual.

During the club's duration (usually two to four weeks), continue to keep the church aware of the fun and encourage participation through newsletters, media bags, buttons, and more visits to groups. After the club closes, continue promotion through a newsletter and a report to the church. Listen for testimonies of good things that happen, and ask to use them in verbal or written promotion.

Recognize participants

Each participant should receive a memento of his or her participation. Design a certificate of participation to include the media club name and logo, dates of the event, the participant's name, and "official" signatures — library director, pastor, and education minister. A small commemorative item could be given also.

Celebrate the experience

Celebrate the media club with a fun event. Decorate with some of the time-related items you have already gathered. Provide food and add:

  • A guest speaker to provide time management ideas
  • A history of time-measuring tools
  • A review of several new books on time you are adding to the collection (avoid reviews of books they may have read already)
  • Games about time for the children.

Place a book, audiocassette, or video about time in the collection to honor the media club.

Don't forget a special, small celebration for the library staff and volunteers. You and they deserve to celebrate the hard work!

Evaluate the experience

How did it go? What was the hit of the club? Determine what to include and what you would change for your next media club.

Prepare a report to the church on the results of the media club-number of participants, number of pieces of media used, library needs discovered. Also include families involved, lives changed, the Word spread, and especially outcomes God brought through the event. Presenting this report in your church business meeting will assure it being a part of your church history.

Adapted from "Time for a Media Club!," Christian Media Journal, Fall 2002

Barbara Freese is assistant librarian and associate professor, American Baptist College, Nashville, Tennessee.

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