The community library provides a special service to its members in a nurturing, albeit, quiet environment. In recent years the benefits of the library and its services have become overshadowed by the internet and computer technology that allows access to many of the same services the library provides without ever having to enter one. With the money collected from memberships and over due books needed to stay afloat, librarians are finding themselves looking for ways to breathe life back into their bookshelves.
Here are a few ideas that a library should consider to help get their community excited about being a member again:
Start Book Clubs
People who avidly love to read usually love to talk about what they just read. Veteran librarians will remember the wild success Oprah Winfrey had with the book club on her talk show during the '90s. Set aside a place and time for book clubs to get together and discuss the latest novel. As a librarian you can get the ball rolling by making the reading suggestions, but over time the participants themselves will start to feel comfortable about making their own suggestions for what the club should be reading.
To keep these meetings engaging, start by talking about the characters or plot of the story. Try to avoid making it too academic with questions about symbolism or other writing techniques. If the conversation naturally flows that way let it, but avoid sounding like a High School English teacher.
Having story time for young children is a traditional part of the community library and a great way to start getting kids interested in reading early. If you have story time for kids at your library then this is also a great opportunity to reconnect with their parents. Have on display just outside your story area an array of books that may interest them. Choose new parenting books, the latest fiction novels, and/or celebrity cookbooks. As the parents peruse these suggested books while waiting for their child's story to finish, they will hopefully rediscover the love of reading a printed book over an e-book.
Stay in Touch
Remind your community that the library is still there by keeping in touch with them. Forget about sending those dated postcards in the mail and instead use a nonprofit notification service. With a service provider like DialMyCalls, you would store all of your member's phone numbers into one web-based control panel. When you want to let them know about a new book release that they may want to get on the waiting list for, an upcoming reading or book club event, your message can be sent out immediately to everyone via personalized voice recording or SMS text message.
Turn up the Volume
Traditionally a library is supposed to be a quiet sanctuary, and most of yours should be too. Do however have one area where talking is not just permitted, it is encouraged. This will turn your library into a social zone and allow members of your community to get to know one another. The live face to face chats that the internet discourages are something that most people miss in their daily lives and one important service that you can offer that the web cannot.
Just as it has for small mom and pop shops, the internet challenges the library's survival. To beat it at its own game a librarian needs to find better ways to connect with the community and show the amazing services you are still able to provide. Increasing membership is fundamental to staying open, as is making those members look forward to coming back.
There is more to being an inspiring Sunday School teacher than teaching bible verses. Your job is an important one and will pave the way for a new generation of worshipers to continue with your church's traditions and beliefs. To pull this off, follow these tips to keep your students interested and make your job easier.
Prepare Your Classes in Advance
Don't wait until Saturday night to start thinking about your Sunday morning class. Set aside a little time each day to make plans and find relevant materials. Your lessons will make more of an impact on the children when they are not rushed through at the last minute.
Avoid Passing the Buck
Plan as many interactive activities as you can. It is alright to schedule small breathing periods for yourself with a quick video or workbook activity, but the majority of the time your lessons should be focused on dialogues with your students where they are active participants.
Be a Positive Disciplinarian
It makes no difference where the setting is, when you get groups of children together, discipline issues are going to arise. Deal with them quickly, efficiently and with as much of a positive attitude as you can muster. If a problem persists you are within your rights to bring it to the pastor's and parent's attention.
Encourage Parent & Child Spiritual Conversations
To ensure that the parents know what their children are learning in your class, have your students get signatures on the finished pages of their workbooks. With luck, when the parents see what the children learned at Sunday School it will spark spiritual conversations in the home.
Keep the Parents Updated
Make sure that you have updated contact information for all of your student's parents and program them into a mass notification service such as DialMyCalls. This allows you to contact the parents as a group to notify them of upcoming special events or with a list of materials their children may need to bring to class. You can also contact parents individually with this type of service if you need to speak privately with them. Messages are sent to phones as either a recording of your voice or as an SMS text message.
Constructively Criticize Yourself
Be realistic with yourself about how the classes are going. Look at the children as they enter. Are they excited for class? How is your attendance level? If you are sure that you could be doing better, but unsure of how, ask other church members to sit in on a few of your Sunday School classes and give you an informal evaluation. Be open to accepting critiques and working on ways to improve your lessons and classes.
There is no reason why responsibility should not be a subtle part of your teaching. Let your students help you as much as possible by collecting papers and projects, cleaning the room after the class and even keeping track of attendance. The more work you are able to assign to others, the more time you will have to focus on your main objectives of Sunday School teachings.
Sunday School is an enriching part of a young parishioners spiritual journey that should not be overlooked. Your role as an instructor is a critical one and you should be accepting all of the help being offered to you. This will allow you the time and energy you need to prepare valuable lesson plans that the children will take with them for life.
Outreach programs at the college level are wonderful programs to help promote continuing education. By working with local high schools they can find young people who would not only benefit from the opportunity of higher education, but also appreciate it. If you are looking for ways to further your college outreach program, you can try implementing some of these practices. Most not only increase your exposure to community kids, they will help you pinpoint where the needs are.
Start Mentoring Programs
Speak with your professors who are directly involved in education classes. These students can benefit from hands on experience with children in the local high schools. As part of the project, make it their responsibility to identify weaknesses in the school system as well as identify students who show the potential that would benefit from your outreach.
Build Strong Relationships with High School Guidance Counselors
In most cases, it is the guidance counselor who is recommending kids for your outreach program. They in turn are getting most of their information from the teachers. Get to know these counselors and talk with them weekly about ways in which your program can be improved.
Hold Special High School Events
Meetings are boring and not likely to draw a crowd. Instead plan an informal party for the teachers and staff of the local schools. Set aside a 30 minute time period where you talk about your outreach program and how they can help by identifying students for you. Let them know the traits and characteristics of kids who get the most benefit from the services that you provide. Once the short speech is over, make sure that you work the room and introduced yourself personally to as many guests as possible. This will help them to remember you and your important work towards helping their students.
Get Your Own Student Body Involved
Your biggest strength is those students who are in your school now. Communicate with them about the outreach program you have in place and how it benefits the community. If planning events or trips, send out a mass notification asking for volunteers. Use an automated school messaging system like DialMyCalls. This type of service allows you to connect with the student's cell phones all at once, either with a voice message or an SMS text message. You will be amazed at the number of your own students who want to be involved with helping you achieve the college's goals.
Consider Other Types of Outreach Programs
In addition to helping high school kids realize their dreams of college, you can also help other members of the local community. There are outreach programs that help immigrant parents to learn English, and for adults to obtain a GED or even job seeking skills. Identify the needs in the community where your college lies and consider implementing other outreach programs to help with them.
You are doing important work with your school's efforts at reaching out to local high school students. If you follow these tips and increase awareness and involvement you will be able to help even more kids. Continuing education is an important part of building and sustaining communities. You are already doing your part if you have an outreach program in place. Now it's time to improve on that to reach out to all members of the community.
Whether you are a property manager for an apartment complex, condominium complex or for a number of private and commercial properties, your job is not an easy one. Especially when it comes to dealing with the renters. Here you are dealing with a slew of multiple personalities, including that of the property owner. To help simplify your job while at the same time being better at managing tenants, take a look at these tenant management tips:
This should be at the top of your list because, well without tenants you'll be out of a job. When you have a space to fill in the property first make sure that it is presentable. Throw on a fresh coat of paint, clean the carpet and fix the leak at the faucet.
Once it looks good you can start placing ads, but consider the type of tenant that is interested in the property and word your ad geared to them. For example, if you are managing a high rise in the middle of a large business district talk about how close to public transportation it is, the number of restaurants and stores within walking distance and the safety of the building.
If you have a high turnover, like in a college town, develop a good relationship with a local real estate. You will save yourself a ton of time during breaks if you let the real estate agent find prospective tenants while you make the spaces presentable again.
To save yourself time, start sorting applications by references. What a prior landlord says about a tenant gives the most telling information on the application. Once you have sorted through all of those with no, or bad, references, then look at their credit and work history. From here you will be able to pinpoint a tenant who is reliable and likely to stay in the apartment or condo for a long time.
This is probably the least favorite part of your job after plumbing problems. Make it easier by being clear on the procedures and dates for collecting rent from the start. If you are not around often make sure you have a secure spot for tenants to leave their check for you. Send out reminders 5 days before stating not just the date, but also the day of the week that you expect rent. You can do this with automated tenant reminders.
A service like DialMyCalls will make this very fast and easy for you. You set up an online account with all of your tenants and their contact information. When you need to send them a message you just log in, create the voice message or text message and send it out instantly. What makes this even better is that you can then use it to send an SMS text message to those who are late on the rent without having to hunt anyone down. This type of service can be used anytime you need to let your tenants know something important is coming up, for just one or for the entire building.
No property manager wants to have to resort to this extreme, but it is one of the more unpleasant parts of your job. Always keep record of your tenant dealings and rental payments and know the local laws for when you can begin eviction proceedings. Follow these laws to the letter or you could be the one who ends up in trouble. Depending on where you are located, this may take up to a few months, but waiting is better than ending up with your own set of legal problems.
When you have a handle on the people renting in the property you manage, the rest of your job will be a snap. Great tenants mean less noise, less broken appliances and a happier property owner who benefits from your hard work in the form of fewer expenses.
Disaster recovery should be a two part process, with the emphasis being on the first. If you focus on how to react to disasters before they occur then the second phase, recovery, will be easier. After the surprisingly harsh winter in 2013-2014, many towns and municipalities got a wake up call as to how inefficient their emergency notification systems really were.
To avoid this scenario again, get your plans in place now for how you will keep your citizens and employees safe this winter and get your town back up and running fast after a winter storm.
Before getting started on a disaster recovery plan get together with leaders in your community to assemble teams to focus on the different areas. This should include police and fire chiefs, a school board member and principals of area schools plus administrators from your local hospitals. All of them will have valuable information to share on how your community can better handle a disaster. Organize them into teams to help you create an effective and easy to execute disaster recovery plan.
The first part of your planning involves risk assessment. This means identifying all of the potential problem areas first and then prioritizing which need immediate attention. Each of the teams will have their own risks that were identified and need to be addressed. For example, the fire chief may report that his fleet is not equipped with tires suitable for icy roads, while a school principal may point out that they need to replace some windows. Identifying these problems beforehand and remedying them will better prepare you for an upcoming disaster.
Look into how you are able to communicate with your firehouses, police stations and other essential entities during a disaster. Are you able to stay in touch continuously or do you have to wait until their return for updates? This can be problematic, especially during a disaster. Change your current communication system to an automated emergency notification service. This works with cell phones and/or landlines and will allow you to relay important to more than one person or group at a time.
For example, with a service like DialMyCalls, you can send an SMS text message to your entire emergency response team at once. They in turn can either call you back directly at a number the server provides or send you a message. This saves you the time of having to make individual calls while giving them the time they need to help the community.
This can also be used to give the community important information as well. If you store their personal contact information in your account you can send messages about school closings, road closings and power outages. This can make sure that everyone is updated before, during and after the disaster.
One aspect of disaster recovery that is often overlooked is getting supplies into your community during the aftermath. This does not just include things like food and water, but also gas for emergency vehicles and medical supplies. Have as part of your plan a system in place to make sure that these stores are always at a level that can sustain your community for a few days after a disaster.
Maintaining a safe community is your top priority and needs to be considered for all types of situations. Take a hard look at the way in which yours operates, identify the weak spots and improve on them today to be better prepared for what may happen tomorrow.
Halloween has passed which is the official sign that winter weather is impending. For school boards and administrators this means getting their schools ready for cold air, icy walkways and all of the other issues that come with the onset of winter. Start getting your schools ready now, before that temperature starts getting dangerously close to freezing.
Don't wait for the boiler to break down in January, schedule an appointment with your HVAC company now. A broken heater in January can shut your school down for a week. The HVAC tech will look over the entire heating system, change any filters and make sure that it is ready to handle the coming cold and keep the kids in school.
Check Your Bus Fleet
Whether your district has its own fleet of buses or you contract the service out, it is your responsibility to make sure that the kids are getting to and from school safely. In the winter this means checking that each bus has been recently maintained, the tires are in shape to handle icy and snowy roads, and that the heat works.
Update Your School Contact List
Chances are that at some point during the winter you are going to need to alert parents and staff to a school opening delay or closing. Update the contacts within your school notification system, adding all new student's information and taking out those who have graduated or are no longer with the school. This will make sending an alert via voice or text message to the student body even faster.
If you are not using a school notification system, consider getting one such as DialMyCalls. Not only does it give you a way to get in touch with parents in an instant, it can also be used to keep your faculty and staff updated on the status of the school. Your teachers can even use it to give out homework assignments to their students if a blizzard is keeping your school closed for a few days.
Make Your Disaster Plans
Snow does not only fall at night. Have a plan in place for getting the kids home early if a winter storm during the day is creating unsafe driving conditions for the bus. Coordinate your plan with the busing company and make sure that the parents are also aware of the procedure. This is another example of a time when having an emergency broadcast system set up can come in very handy.
Remove Outside Hazards
Winter weather creates hazards outside that may not be obvious in the fall and spring. Have the gutters around the school cleaned and maintained to avoid icicles building up here and dropping down. Also trim trees that are near entrances and where students and staff may be standing. The weight of snow and ice will lower the branches possibly right into a path of foot traffic.
Before you know it, the ghosts and goblins lining your school halls will be replaced with pilgrims and turkeys. After this you need to be ready for when that first storm hits. Don't wait any longer, start now to make sure your entire school stays safe no matter how hard mother nature hits this year.
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