Morgan Davis, Salina Public Library, Community Learning Coordinator
Outreach Department. Has a background in PR and communication. Job is a great way to be infused in the community.
Library’s mission statement: “Connecting people to information, learning, and culture.”
CLASS: Community Learning and Skill Sharing
Each semester CLASS has 50-60 classes. Instructor are community members who have been found to teach the classes.
People who come to classes, never stop learning.
What is CLASS? A program of non-credit classes offered by community members at a low-cost and with low-commitment. Chose not to offer certification or for-credit courses, so the library doesn’t compete with other community organizations.
1.5 hrs 1 time, up to 6 week-classes. Most expensive class is a beginning Spanish class, for $89, 20 hours over five weeks, includes a textbook.
“programs” library programs are typically free to attend and may serve a specific purpose or present a specific point-of-view
“classes” lifelong learning classes require a course fee and are broadly educational in nature, and make sure there’s a value-added take-away from the class.
Are instructors paid? $15/class hour offered or volunteer time. This is built into the class fees. The library makes no money off this program.
From the beginning:
Grassroots: Learning for Life began with 6 people and a vision for community learning. 410 people in first semester. Learning for Life was a trademarked name, so it had to be change.
Non-profit status: In 2004, CLASS was granted non-profit status.
Move to the library: After CLASS reached out to the library board, they were allowed a trial run for the fall 2005 semester. Library director was one of the original creators of the program.
Today: our semesters average 700 enrollments and are almost entirely self-sustained.
Program website: www.salinapubliclibrary.org/class
Think through registration process, including simple approaches at the beginning.
Signup registration software. Switching to CourseStorm for credit card processing. Can add cash & check registrations on the back end.
Close registration a week before the class. Have a course-enrollment minimum set, and if that minimum isn’t met, cancel the class and let registrants know.
LERN is the bomb! http:www.lern.org International learning organization that the library belongs to.
Community support is critical for this program. If the community isn’t willing to invest time, money, interest, buy-in and more, the program won’t succeed. Financial support is only a small part of what makes CLASS successful.
Positive word of mouth keeps CLASS going. Friends sign people up for gifts, surprises. Invest in the people.
Have a liberal refund policy for people. Registration refundable if a participant cancels a week before.
How can you afford to offer classes?
How to price course:
Course fee involves: instructor fee, staff time, room use fee, materials, library supplies, (monetary value — will this class be worth the fee set). Divide the total cost to run the class divided by the course minimum, to then determine the course cost.
One course may have a surplus, but one may not. It all evens out in the end.
Program called Pass the Buck, for people to contribute toward a scholarship fund for people who can’t afford classes. Someone who asks for a scholarship will attend a class at half-cost.
Is there a dedicated space for classes? Community learning center has 2 classrooms, but also find spaces in the community to host the classes.
Offer classes in the best venue for the class. Community kitchen. Cabinetry company has kitchen as well. Schools. Churches. Main library building used. Some of these do charge for the space.
A week before the class, a reminder email sent, including map to the class location. If they don’t email, a phone call will be made.
Do people object to going outside of town for some classes? Every now and then, someone does say that, allow people to drive attendee out to the class location.
Sounds great, but who’s going to teach?
*Teachers will come to you (credentialed and passionate teachers)
*Students will come to you (“I want to learn x…” who can teach that?)
But if they don’t come to you, check these places for people and topics:
*Art center, museums, or libraries
*Colleagues and friends
This helps you find topics and attendees and teachers, but it also helps you know which dates to avoid (especially the school calendar).
Teachers that receive negative reviews….ask the instructor how s/he thought the class went, let the instructor read the evaluations, and that opens the door for further conversation. People usually know, they’re good at self-evaluation.
Usually asking someone to teach, it’s a compliment to them, encouraging to them.
If library staff teach a class, it’s voluntary time, still have to go through the application process.
The numbers part
Statistics will differ with each library the type of information you need to track.
Good things to know in building your program:
*Types of payment being taken
Always get participant and instructor feedback via evaluations
Talk to people! If they have to pay for something, they won’t be afraid to let you know whether they thought it was worth their time and money.
Course catalogs mailed to people who have taken classes over the last 3 years. Also sent to three-targeted carrier routes. And left in common community spaces. — track where people hear about classes.
Targeted course catalogs cheaper than newsprint.
Staff attend beginning of first class, to make sure things go smoothly. LERN suggests leaving sticky note with “feel good” message for instructor.
Challenges: inter-departmental relationships. Library departments and communication. Have conversations with library staff often. Understand what other library departments do, their time, their challenges…that helps communications.
*CLASS 4 Kids! 10 classes targeted at kids + family classes
*Increased participant input
*Stronger online presence
If 50 percent classes go the first time on a new approach, that’s a good success rate. Try things twice, two different times of year, day, venue, etc.