The Programming Challenge

By Alex Andrasik, Adult Services Librarian


I love programming for the library.  I’d say it’s my favorite part of the job.  There’s nothing like looking at a fresh, unspoiled calendar page and filling it up with events, classes, concerts, presentations and more, all aimed at catching the interest of you, our library patrons and community members.  We do it to teach you.  To inform you.  To entertain you.  Hopefully there’s a little bit of something for everyone, and even if you haven’t attended a library program in a while, I hope you’re pleased with the knowledge that we keep trying new things, keep bringing back successful things, and are doing our best to serve your needs.


There’s only one problem.  It’s really hard.


I don’t mean it’s hard in a “I don’t feel like doing this right now” kind of way (although, admittedly, that is the case sometimes).  It’s actually a really tough skill to master.  Anyone who has ever dabbled in event planning will know this to be true.  There’s a certain headspace you have to get into in order to look beyond the pressing concerns of this week, right now, and start considering the shape of things a month or two or six ahead.  Then there’s the constant need for ideas, and the fact that those ideas don’t always work when you sit down to hash out the details.  And actually pulling together the necessary materials and people, at the date and time advertised, in front of a crowd of people can be an exercise in humility—especially when technology breaks down, or material you thought would last an hour only takes up 30 minutes, or, or, or…


It’s no wonder that I’m about to ask you to take over for me.


I exaggerate, of course.  Adult programming at the Penn Yan Public Library will remain primarily my responsibility, just as youth programming will remain the province of my esteemed colleague Sarah.  But I really do have pure motives for inviting you, the community at large, to participate in the process of planning events.


One of my job-related ideals is that the library should be the natural crossroads of the community it resides in.  The library is—or should be—the place where ideas are born, meet, and evolve.  And ideas can’t get very far without people, so naturally, the people belong in the library first and foremost.


Of course, you are here—I see you every day!  Checking out books, browsing DVDs, using the computers, attending our (lovingly conceived) programs.  But I hope you won’t call me selfish if I invite you to do more.  I want you to bring more programs to the library.


Everyone’s an expert at something, or a master of some craft, or an armchair authority in some discipline.  Your expertise might stem from your job.  Your mastery might come from a passionate hobby.  Whatever the source of your power, why not share it with the world?  Why not call me up, or email me, and say, “Alex, help me plan an event to help everyone else love this one thing as much as I do”?


We already have some patrons and community members who share with us this way.  Mary Beth Gamba’s excellent “Classics in Religion” series is one popular example.  Our dedicated Library Friends are often involved in programming.  Our weekly knitting group wouldn’t amount to much without the crafters who come back time after time.  Among others.


But I feel that we’d have even more going on in this line if folks knew they were welcome to propose their own program, group gathering, class or event.  After all, how do you know you’re welcome to do something unless you’ve been invited?  So consider this your invitation.  Show us what you’ve got.


I can’t promise every single one of you a spot on the calendar.  There are only so many days in a year, after all.  But I can promise to listen to your ideas, and help develop them where I can.  And maybe together, we can make Penn Yan’s crossroads bustle a little busier.


Have an idea you’d like to pitch me?  Send me an email at, or call the library and ask for Alex.