Thanks to all of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to complete the second annual library survey! For me, part of the pleasure of the summer library season is visiting a diverse range of libraries. From single small town libraries to sprawling, multi-branch urban systems, I see how libraries form the heart of communities large and small. Through EducationalPerformers.org, my goal is to make your jobs easier by providing all the information you need in one location.
In that spirit, I am sharing with you some of the highlights of this latest survey. I hope that hearing from your peers about their experiences will help you to prepare for the upcoming summer season.
In booking performers, librarians reported that they look for programs that are:
Relevant to summer reading/annual theme
Entertaining and interactive
Several respondents cited the importance of dealing with individuals who are not only good at entertaining and engaging audiences, but who are professional in their interactions. This includes responding promptly, communicating clearly, arriving prepared and on time, and submitting paperwork on schedule. As one librarian said, “It is frustrating when I have to beg performers for contracts and/or invoices in a timely fashion.”
Pet peeves include:
Performers who lack “crowd control” skills
Performers who are disrespectful or rude to the audience
Entertainers who spend time during the show promoting themselves
When the advertising/promotional pieces don’t match up with actual content
Resources and budgets vary greatly depending on library size and funding. Overall, libraries averaged eight paid programs a summer, with total budgets of $0 to $6000. Performer fees ranged from $0 to $1,900, with most charging $200 to $400 per program.
Although educational content is appreciated, it is not always the first priority. As one person noted, “The most important thing to me is entertainment, how well the performer keeps the audience’s attention.” “The most important thing is if the kids enjoy the performer,” said another. Parent buy-in is also key. “Since parents usually attend, they need to think the programs are worthwhile for their children to attend. I definitely listen to parent feedback and book well-received programs again.”
Making a good impression has its rewards. “I am loyal to those who have done great programs in the past. I also look for those who communicate well with me during booking, etc.,” commented one librarian. Simply put, “If they are good and keep the children entertained, they come back. If not, they don’t come back.”
I’m happy to report that 20 percent of those surveyed used EducationalPerformers.org to find performers for summer programs. In addition to offering a comprehensive directory of library performers, the site includes starred reviews and feedback from libraries. I hope you will take a moment to look at our roster of performers, leave reviews for those you have hired, and discover new options for next year. Happy planning!