When I started here at the Salina Public Library, many of our programs and instructors had been working with the library for years. The library has been offering yoga classes for many years now and they continue to be some of our more popular adult classes. We recently changed the yoga classes to a drop-in format, and lowered the attendance price to $1 per class, (Chair Yoga has always been and will remain free to attend) even offering punch cards if people weren’t fond of carrying cash. Since this change, I have seen more patrons attend consistently and many praise the low price of the class, making it accessible to more people within the community. The people who come to Yoga Moves and Chair Yoga consistently take the time to connect with each other and can be heard greeting each other by name and inquiring about each other’s lives.
There is a specific patron who attends Yoga Moves fairly consistently and always has her $1 bill ready to pay for the class. Except the dollar is never just handed over as is. Before each class, she takes the time to fold the dollar bill into different origami shapes. There have been hearts, stars, and even most recently a cat (or a fox, we couldn’t decide which). I always leave the bill in its folded shape until I have to turn it over to the business office.
The Mah Jongg instructor Linda Smittle originally began offering Mah Jongg classes through the library because she moved to Salina and realized she didn’t have anyone to play the game with. So she decided to start teaching people in the community and now hosts regular Mah Jongg groups at the library, as well as continuing to teach new learners through beginner classes offered through the library’s programs. I had no idea Mah Jongg was so popular before working with Linda on the class, and now I see how much joy these classes and game meetings bring to the people who come and feel they have a place in the community. The library provides a free Mah Jongg League Card to people who take Linda’s class that they can keep and use to play future games of Mah Jongg.
Our most popular program is the Pinterest Night class led by Eileen Thibault. Due to supplies and time limits, the class is limited to 10 people, and some patrons wait by the computer until registration opens to sign up. When the morning registration opens, I always find at least a few messages or emails asking to be placed on the waitlist for the class. Pinterest Night has grown its own community of women here in Salina who escape their daily troubles by gathering together and crafting. After each Pinterest Night, Eileen sends a picture of the group and their completed crafts and in each one there are smiles on every single face.
As I continue to adjust continuing programs and create/find new ones, my goal is always to remain creative and flexible. If I hear feedback from the community about programs, I always take it heavily into consideration when planning. I try to give the community programs they want, as well as programs they didn’t even know they wanted until they attended. I hope to add more crafting programs to our roster as those truly are our most popular classes. People want to create and use their imagination, they sometimes just don’t know where to start. The arts are important to the Salina community and I want to continue making it possible for them to flourish. Many of our instructors are local to Salina and volunteer their time to teach the classes, just to have that connection with others in the community.
I recently started an ESL Conversation Group that is starting to pick up people slowly, majority by the spouses of people coming to work at Koboda from Japan. They express how grateful they are that the library offers the group and that they have another chance to practice their English speaking. Not too long ago I had another person notice that we offered the group, who wanted to volunteer to show up to the group as someone for the registrants to talk to. She taught English as a Second Language before and has been a huge help in starting this group. I have never led a group like this before and I am grateful for her presence in the group.