Event planning

A special event is a one-time event focused on a specific purpose such as a groundbreaking, grand opening or other significant occasion in the life of a library. Special events may also be created for other targeted purposes such as a job fair; awards banquet or logo contest. These one time special events are different from "programs" offered on a continuing basis such as a lecture series, summer reading club or story hour. The following steps are offered to help guide your event planning:

  • 1. Develop strategies for success

    • Make sure the purpose for the special event is important enough to merit the time and expense needed to properly stage, publicize and evaluate the event.
    • Carefully match the type of event that is selected to the purpose that it serves. Do you want to reach out to new users or thank your supporters?
    • Ensure that the library staff fully supports the special event. Select a working committee with broad representation.
    • Target groups that have a special stake in the event such as library users, funders, and politicians. Business leaders, senior citizens or parents.
    • Develop ways to evaluate the event's success. Measurable event objectives may include attendance, the amount of money raised, the number of library cards issued or increases in circulation.
    • Talk to other librarians who have successfully staged similar events.

  • 2. Make a checklist

    A checklist provides a step-by-step guide to organizing and executing a special event. See sample checklist on next page.

  • 3. Create a budget

    The objective is to provide event planners with a financial blueprint. The budget should be specific, and include revenue opportunities (sponsorship, ticket sales, donations. concession sales) as well as expenses printing, permits, insurance, speakers, food, supplies, security).

  • 4. Consider logistics

    • With many activities going on simultaneously, there are many details to be checked. Major areas to consider and plan for include:
    • Size of space or building used;
    • Utility support needed
    • Setup (tables and chairs. tents, portable toilets, parking, signage) coordination, cleanup, emergency plans;
    • Transportation and public services such as police and fire departments.

  • 5. Plan publicity

    • Promoting a special event takes creative thinking balanced with practicality. The primary objective is to publicize the event, but secondary objectives should be considered.
    • Are you trying to inform, educate or entertain?
    • Increase awareness or attendance of the event?
    • Build a base support from a specific audience?
    • Facilitate good community relations?
    • Brainstorm all the available media in including marquees, school newsletters, church announcements, and cable and commercial stations. Make a detailed list with names of whom to contact and when.

  • 6. Evaluate the event

    • Take time to evaluate right after the event while the details are fresh. You may want to consider having a questionnaire for participants to fill out. Some general evaluative criteria include:
    • Did the event fulfill its goals and objectives? Why or why not?
    • Identify what worked and what needs fine-tuning. Which vendors should be used again?
    • What items were missing on the checklist?
    • Was the event well attended?
    • Was informal and formal feedback about the event positive?
    • Given all that went into staging, was it worth doing?
    Finally, it is important to remember to celebrate your successes and to thank all those who contributed.

  • 7. Sample Check List

    • The following checklist provides a step-by-step guide to organizing and executing an open house.
    • Include projected deadlines for each step.
    • Select chair and members of your planning committee.
    • Develop a master plan and set the event date
    • Select chairs for subcommittees such as refreshments, setup and cleanup, tour guides, traffic and safety, volunteer speakers, and invitations.
    • Organize volunteers for each committee.
    • Formulate a publicity plan. Decide when/how media should be contacted.
    • Be sure to alert the media of photo and interview opportunities.
    • Prepare copy for program and printed materials.
    • Hold a "tie down" meeting the day before the event Distribute a schedule of events to each committee member. Discuss assignments. Distribute identification badges. Answer any questions.
    • Set up several registration tables and stagger tour schedules to avoid bottlenecks.
    • Distribute a program as guests arrive, so they know what to expect.
    • After the event, mail the printed program with an appropriate letter to "significant others" who were unable to attend.
    • Remember to thank everyone who participated. Send photos if possible. Conduct an evaluation

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