Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Library Programming for the Brew Crew

If you grew up in Wisconsin, then you already know that beer making has been an important part of our culture ever since 19th century German immigrants brought their knowledge of brewing to our state.  When I was growing up in Monroe – home of the Huber (now Minhas) Brewery – I thought that all children walked to school smelling hops and barley in the air.

Photo of books and brewery-related items
Photo of books & breweriana courtesy of Denise Anton Wright
During my childhood in the 1960's, large breweries dominated the industry; the beer they produced was uniform in quality but often uninspired.  Two events during the 1970's dramatically altered the beer landscape: small craft breweries emerged and federal legislation allowing home production of beer for personal use was passed in 1978.  According to the national Brewers Association, there are now over 3,000 breweries – both large and small - in the United States; the largest number since the colonial period.

How does all of this impact public libraries?   We now have a population - both male and female - very interested in the diversity of beers being produced and many of these people are experimenting with brewing beer themselves.  What an ideal opportunity for public libraries to develop innovative, exciting programming around a variety of beer-related topics.  Here's just a small sampling of what's happening in our Wisconsin library community:

While you're planning beer-related library events, don't forget all the great authors throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest who have written on the topics of brewing beer, Wisconsin breweries, and tavern / brewery history.   And if your event includes the consumption of beer on library property, make certain your library policies address this and that your municipality has been notified during your planning.  Cheers.

Written by:
Denise Anton Wright, Public Library Development
(with thanks to Ryan Claringbole for suggesting this topic)