Local public libraries have already gone well beyond lending books and other media to offering concerts, crafts and more. Wednesday, the Olympia Timberland Regional Library gives people a chance to check out some new friends.
The library is hosting Fast Friends, its first friendship speed-dating event, open to adults of any age.
“There are a lot of programs we have that are done lecture-style, or we have workshops where the focus is on what’s being presented,” said librarian Kayla Emerson, who’s organizing the program. “While there might be some time for mingling and getting to know people, there’s just not enough time for that.”
The speed-dating event will begin with short meetings among all of the participants, who’ll sit at tables in the library’s atrium. Every two minutes or so, people will move to a new conversation.
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“I’ll have questions in case people need a starting place,” Emerson said.
Speed dating could be a comfortable way for introverted types to mingle. “If a conversation isn’t going well, it’s only a minute or two that you have to tolerate it,” she said.
The program is aimed at attracting people who might not normally go to the library, particularly younger adults. “Speed dating is a concept that I think is going to be familiar with a slightly younger demographic,” Emerson said.
“There’s a thing that seems to happen where kids and their parents come, and then the kids grow up past high school and stop coming in until they have kids,” said librarian Ally Mackey. “That’s a pattern we see at many libraries.”
The Olympia library offers a variety of programs and events targeting this age group, including concerts, a zine club and an informal book club that meets at Obsidian instead of in the library.
“We have done a lot to reach out to that demographic,” Mackey said. “We try to serve everybody. Some libraries, I think, give up or don’t know how, but we try really hard, and I think we do a pretty good job.”
As for Wednesday’s event, after the timed conversations, Emerson plans to offer activities such as games, puzzles and coloring, so people can continue their interactions.
“It will be a casual setting,” she said. “There’ll be snacks.”
If all goes well, new friends can plan to meet again, and the librarians hope they’ll return to the scene of their first date.
“If you’re really engaging, you can continue this later and maybe come to another library program,” Emerson said.
Fast Friends: Friendship Speed Dating
What: This program for adults offers the chance to meet potential new friends during quick-timed conversations, then join in activities and games.
When: 7:15-8:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Olympia Timberland Regional Library, 313 Eighth Ave. SE, Olympia.