Happy National Novel Writing Month! To celebrate, we’re featuring a handful of libraries to hear what they have going for writers in their communities this month. Today we hear from Shannon Astolfi, who works in the Reference Department at the Morse Institute Library in Natick, MA. Shannon gives us a breakdown of the programs on the library’s schedule this month. ~Laura

This countdown kept library users engaged in the days leading up to NaNoWriMo. Designed by Dave Bartos for Morse Institute Library.

This countdown kept library users engaged in the days leading up to NaNoWriMo. Designed by Dave Bartos for Morse Institute Library.

Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): What’s on the Morse Institute Library’s docket for NaNoWriMo this year?

Shannon Astolfi (SA): We are hosting three write-ins in our Innovation Studio this month. We provide space for writers to gather, power strips to charge their devices, hot drinks, snacks, and moral support.
 
LAIP: Anna [Litten, Community Relations Coordinator] mentioned that there was a “soft launch” for NaNoWriMo last year–are there things that the library did last year that you’re enhancing or expanding this year?
 
SA: Last year we simply announced the start of NaNoWriMo through our newsletter and advertised ourselves as a place to write. This year we hope to engage more with the community of writers participating in NaNoWriMo by having designated times for write-ins. 
 
LAIP: What did you take into consideration when planning events/programming for NaNoWriMo for 2016?
 
SA: From the beginning, we knew that we primarily wanted to focus on providing space for writers to write, as opposed to seminars or other activities. Staff availability was our primary planning constraint. Offering write-ins struck the best balance for us between the level of staff involvement required in the event and the sense of “specialness” that would encourage writers to set aside time to come to the library. In order to complement rather than compete with any other libraries in our network that might also offer NaNoWriMo programming, we checked the calendar for our regional group on Nanowrimo.org and tried to choose times for our events when other libraries in our region were not offering write-ins or other programs of their own. 
 
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Wrimos at a recent Morse Institute Library write-in. Photo by Shannon Astolfi. Image courtesy of Morse Institute Library.

 
LAIP: What advice do you have for libraries that are either looking to try NaNoWriMo programming for the first time, or looking to breathe new life into a program they’ve done in the past?
 
SA: If you have any inclination at all to participate in NaNoWriMo, just do it! Setting up a book display, posting on social media, or running even one write-in are all opportunities to start engaging with the writers in your community. Once you have formed those relationships, your writers will have feedback about what kinds of programs they are interested in, which will only make next year’s events stronger.
 
Is your library offering programs to support Wrimos in your community this year? Tell us in the comments or share on social media!
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