Libraries, Book Dating and Meetup

Does your library use Meetup?

book dating blog post

A year and a half ago, one of our then new librarians launched a totally new (to us) program – Book Dating. It’s been delightfully  successful (press coverage has definitely helped), and sometimes we’ve had almost 40 people attend an event.

But after a year, promoting Book Dating has presented a challenge to our usual publicity avenues.  With most programs, you need to make sure your regular users know the program exists, and that new folks can find the program info easily on your website.

But in order for Book Dating to work, you have to attract a new crowd of people each month.

And I don’t know about your town, but for all the progress we’ve made in raising awareness of the Library as a vital community asset, most people don’t look to the library when they’re single and want to date.

So we’re trying out “Book Dating at the Arlington Public Library” on Meetup.

We’ve registered for a 6 month subscription, and I spent part of today setting up the page. The whole process took about 4 hours, because I kept discovering related pages on our site that needed to be updated, too.

Meetup has some pretty cool and flexible features.  After creating my first event, I was able to make it recurring, set an RSVP cut-off deadline (just before the program starts), a maximum number of respondents (25) and a waiting list. I also added:

And I added every related topic to the Topic List that I could find – everything from Avid Readers and Book Discussion to Singles and Speed Dating.

Unfortunately, our next event is on January 20 – the Sunday of a long weekend, and the night before the inauguration – when much of our area will have either fled town, or will be attending parties. So we may not be able to attract many people for this month with or without Meetup, but I hope that by February we’ll be able to tell whether we’re attracting local folks who love books – but who wouldn’t think to look to their public library for their next great date.


  1. Deb Kauffman says:

    Hi! I was wondering how successful using Meetup was for your event? I clicked the link above to see your Meetup page and it said it didn’t exist. 😦

    • alex zealand says:

      Hey Deb,

      I apologize for taking so long to reply, work has been super busy.

      We stopped doing a Book Dating meetup several years ago because we realized that we were book experts, not dating experts, and that it was too hard to manage all the social aspects of the “dating” part of the program. However, we really liked the way Meetup was working for us in terms of bringing new people into the library, so we have continued to use it for many of our programs. In fact, we’ve now become Meetup Pro users, which means that we run more than 3 umbrella meetups: Lit Up: Events with Literary Style (aimed at 20-30s who have recently moved to the area); Arlington Job Search Meetup (started as a meetup run by a community member who partnered with our Careers librarian – we took it over when she got a job); Afternoons Out in Arlington (aimed at people who are retired or have non-traditional work schedules, and are looking for things to do during the day); Imagine, Create, Share: Makers in Arlington (our Maker programming); English Conversation Class and Arabic Conversation Class.

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