Thursday, January 04, 2007

Library outreach event: Singapore Garden Festival (D-Day ++)

[Continued from "Library outreach event: Singapore Garden Festival (D-Day)", 16 Dec 2006]

Here's a wrap-up of the library's participation at the Singapore Garden Festival (SGF) that ended on 25th Dec 2006 (thanks to colleagues who supplied some photos):

Overgrown garden
From D-Day+0 onwards, I checked in with colleagues via SMS when necessary. Was informed that things proceeded relatively smoothly, except for some issues with hardware (receipt printers were jammed on-and-off).

Sometime around D-Day +5, I received an SMS that the NLB paper garden had become overgrown! My colleague sent this picture via her 3G handphone:
Build My Garden - Day 5

Oh my! I guess the kids got carried away, LOL! That idea didn't turn out as we thought it might have.

Another colleague suggested we provide cut-outs of shapes instead. That worked better, although personally I felt that it lacked that organic-feel to it, heh. Still, main thing was for the kids to have fun at the booth.

Singapore Garden Festival - Library outreach event Singapore Garden Festival - Library outreach event
Singapore Garden Festival - Library outreach event

On D-Day +8, the finished paper-gardens (more than one was completed) were put up as decorations on the booth walls.
Singapore Garden Festival - Library outreach event

The library's booth was manned up till Christmas eve. Staff took a break for Christmas Day. The event organisers converted part of the booth to a sitting area. Nicely done, I feel.
Singapore Garden Festival - Library outreach event

Results achieved
About 3400 books (64%) out of about 5,000 items were borrowed over our 10 days at the event. That's 340 items per day. We also received about 750 enquiries, or 75 enquiries per day. The enquiries included those from people who checked-off on the printed forms we prepared -- the forms allowed them to indicate if they wanted information relating to the listed topic. In this case, we'd prepared handouts that listed books, websites and articles relating to plants and plant-related topics.

Compared to other outreach events, the rate of loans per day from this event isn't considered high. However, loans wasn't the main objective. We anticipated that the types of books brought to the event would have a limited audience:
630 Agriculture
631 Techniques, equipment, materials
632 Plant injuries, diseases, pests
635 Garden crops (Horticulture)
638 Insect culture

I've not compared how the outreach loan figure compares to those of this DDC class (i.e. "Home & Gardening" section) in an NLB public library, over the same period. I'd have to check.

The intangible was the publicity, awareness/ usage of the library's services and (Home & Gardening) collection. Can't say to what extent this was achieved as we didn't do a survey. One reason why we didn't undertake one was the effort involved to compile the data (not to mention that it's not easy to design a good survey -- your data is as good as the questions you ask).

I felt NLB's involvement was worth it, especially since the Singapore Garden Festival was well organised. Walter feels the same way too (about the SGF), and being a marketing person, he should know.

This series of posts won't be complete without me pointing out the good work done by my Public Library Service colleagues (the library assistants, library officers, librarians and library managers). Such an undertaking always requires good team effort and coordination in the various phases -- planning, liaising with NParks and its the event organiser, scheduling and briefing staff & volunteers, handling logistics, liaising with vendors, setting-up/ tearing-down, manning the booth, dealing with on-the-spot problems (always bound to have those), serving customers. All in the name of supporting the NLB mission.

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