The Passive Programming Playbook: 101 Ways to Get ­Library Customers Off the Sidelines

Libraries Unlimited. May 2021. 190p. pap. $55. ISBN 9781440870569.
This compendium of ideas focuses on ways to engage patrons through self-directed activities, otherwise known as passive programming. Starting with the why and the how, librarians Willey (an SLJ reviewer) and Amaral (a Library Journal 2016 Mover & Shaker) smartly give library staff the tools to both offer passive programming and convince administration of its importance. They provide templates of program archetypes, such as name generators, polls, and scavenger hunts, as well as ideas for weekly themes (e.g. “Media Monday”), pop culture and holiday tie-ins, and special space uses. A brief section discusses adaptations for COVID-19 and preparing for other “panicky times.” Whatever the topic, examples are infinitely customizable, and the authors suggest ways to tweak ideas to spark even more creativity. The optimistic, conversational tone keeps the subject approachable and the programs doable. Most activities are quickly described, including just enough information without doing all the work for readers. Programs requiring significant prep time, however, helpfully include diverse booklists and samples. “Instant Replay” sidebars and occasional photographs connect with real-library examples. Resources, bibliography, and index are appended. However, for all the consideration Willey and Amaral give to issues of sensitivity and inclusion, sections on Harry Potter Book Night and Dr. Seuss Day do not reflect recent controversies surrounding those authors’ works. Similarly, disabilities and, aside from references to Pride, LGBTQIA+ identities aren’t as widely included as other identities in examples throughout.
VERDICT Chock-full of ideas and inspiration, this book is a (mostly) great resource for library staff looking to creatively increase all-ages patron engagement.

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