209 Big Programming Ideas for Small Budgets

ALA Member
Item Number
ALA Editions
AP Categories

Primary tabs

You don't need to be an ALA Member to purchase from the ALA Store, but you'll be asked to create an online account/profile during the checkout to proceed. This Web Account is for both Members and non-Members. 

If you are Tax-Exempt, please verify that your account is currently set up as exempt before placing your order, as our new fulfillment center will need current documentation. Learn how to verify here.

  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the author

Published in partnership with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries



When you’re a solo librarian or only have a few volunteers to rely on (with a tiny budget to match) you’ve got to make the most of everything. With creativity, flexibility, and heart, you can be the anchor your community needs, offering programming that engages people of all ages and backgrounds. In this book Price, whose library serves a town with a population of less than 300, shares dozens of ideas that have helped to triple attendance numbers in a three-year period, alongside many more suggestions from other libraries across the country. You‘ll learn how fun and easy DIY programming can be, inspiring you to     

  • use passive programming like scavenger hunts and Lego towers to engage your patrons no matter when they visit your library;
  • adapt one of the dozens of low- or no-cost programs included, from library decorating parties and teen taste-tests to a local history night and a mini-golf tournament;
  • celebrate the different seasons of the year with ideas tied to a variety of holidays;
  • jump-start your outreach efforts by partnering with health clinics, museums, restaurants, local businesses, and other organizations and individuals in your community;
  • collaborate with your school district through initiatives like reading challenges and information literacy field trips;
  • get the word out using fliers, advertising, word of mouth marketing, your library’s website, and social media; 
  • avoid burnout and deal with stress, with suggestions for self-care and reinvigoration; and
  • host a benefit, launch a fundraising drive, or apply for grants using the tips and information provided in the book.

No matter their size, libraries are the lifeblood of their communities. Armed with this book’s ideas and guidance, yours will be sure to connect successfully with the people you serve.

Preface: Adventures in Tiny Librarianship
Introduction: Small Libraries, Big Hearts

Chapter 1: The Power of Passive Programs
Chapter 2: Thrifty and Nifty
Chapter 3: Celebrate the Seasons at the Library 
Chapter 4: The Librarian Has Left the Building
Chapter 5: There’s Gold in Them Thar’ Hills!
Chapter 6: Schools + Libraries = Programming Success! 
Chapter 7: School’s Out for Summer
Chapter 8: Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy
Chapter 9: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Programs
Chapter 10: Extra, Extra, Read All About It!
Chapter 11: Take This Job and . . . Love It!

Conclusion: Little Libraries Are Powerful Libraries 
Appendix: Where to Find Grant Money

Chelsea Price

Chelsea Price has been the library director in Meservey, Iowa, since 2015. She has presented at the Kids First Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, and the Association for Rural & Small Libraries Conference in Springfield, Illinois, and she presented webinars for the Programming Librarian website and the Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference. She also writes regularly for the Programming Librarian blog. In her spare time, Price and her husband love to volunteer at animal shelters all over the Midwest, and they have four senior rescue dogs of their own.