I love November, because it lets me combine my careers as a librarian and a writer to host NaNoWriMo programs at the library. I started out small last year with just displays and resource lists, and have expanded this year to include a couple write-ins and a teen writing workshop. For those librarians looking to host NaNoWriMo events, or for Municipal Liaisons who may want to partner with their local library, here are a few things you can do to make the library a gathering place for Wrimos.
1. Sign up to be a Come Write In location. It’s free, and for just the cost of shipping, the Office of Letters and Light (the foundation that’s in charge of NaNoWriMo) will send you a poster, window cling, and bookmarks promoting NaNoWriMo. As an official Come Write In location, your library will be listed on the NaNoWriMo regional forum for your area, and you’ll be given the option of connecting with your local Municipal Liaison (ML) to collaborate on NaNoWriMo events. Depending on staffing situations and your own ML’s availability, your ML may even be willing to host events, so the only thing the library will have to do is provide the space. Either way, if you don’t have the staffing to organize official write-ins, a passive book display or social media post could inspire and encourage your community’s Wrimos. If you’re an ML, and your library isn’t already a CWI location, consider reaching out to the library and asking if they’d be willing to partner. Emphasize that it’s free and a good way to reach potential library users.
2. Create and share writing resource lists. In addition to a book display, last year I made a handout listing useful websites for writers. This year I’ve updated that list to include podcasts and people/organizations to follow on Twitter, too. I have the advantage of insider knowledge — many of these sites are ones I visit regularly for help with my own writing — but if you don’t know where to start, the Come Write In forums have seasoned librarians who graciously share what they’re doing. Shout-out to ThePQ4 for her awesome check-out card progress tracker idea, which I’ve adapted for my library.
3. If you have the resources, and you’re comfortable doing so, host a write-in or two. You can look into having word wars or word sprints, or just provide a space for writers to gather. Provide snacks and/or coffee, and your local Wrimos will love you even more. For MLs whose library is not an official CWI location, see if the library has meeting rooms for public use. Most public libraries do. If yours does, see if you can book a room for write-ins as an alternative to gathering at a coffee shop or cafe that may force Wrimos on a tight budget to buy something.
There’s plenty more you can do as a librarian hosting NaNoWriMo events. Next year I’d like to invite NaNoWriMo veterans to form a panel at a “What is NaNoWriMo?” informational night in October and perhaps host an end-of-NaNoWriMo party (popularly referred to as the TGIO (“Thank god it’s over) party, but I don’t like that name, because it makes it sound like writing a novel was a chore, not a thrill-ride). I may also look into pre-NaNoWriMo planning workshops, depending on how much interest we have in my community, and how much time I can devote to NaNoWriMo at the library. I’ll definitely try to partner with my local ML for these events.
Is your library a Come Write In location? Have you done anything for your local Wrimos? Please share in the comments!