OLEAN, NY -- Amidst a push to gain a wider audience, the Olean Public Library will host its first-ever Friend Speed Dating Program Feb. 9 at 6 p.m.
The event, which will be similar to traditional, romantic speed dating, is an opportunity for those in the Olean area to connect with like-minded individuals, said Jennifer Stickles, head of youth and adult programs at the library.
Born out of a gap present within the library's target audience, the event will be open to those in their 20s and 30s.
"The library had a well-established array of programs for children, teens and older adults," Stickles explained. "What we were missing, however, was ‘new adults,’ which is those in their twenties and thirties."
Stickles said the library will focus on offering programs to "new adults" in the coming months.
"We decided this year to start offering some programs that are perhaps a little non-traditional," Stickles said. "We are open to ideas. This is your community, your library, so let us know if there is something you would like to see us offer."
Though the new ideas being tested at Olean Public Library may not always be successful, Stickes said she believes this event will be valuable to the community.
"Friendship is important at all stages in life, but it can be difficult for those in their mid-twenties to thirties to make new friends," Stickles said. "At this point, you are out of college/school, you are working, perhaps starting a family, and you may be starting to outgrow the friends you met in high school or college."
Stickles believes friend speed dating will provide a unique opportunity for those struggling to find companionship outside of romantic relationships.
"By inviting members of the community to come to the library for friend speed dating, it creates a different environment than say meeting up at a bar," Stickles said. "You are walking into the event knowing that everyone is only looking for friends, so perhaps it will encourage people to be themselves a bit more."
Stickles chose the 20-30s age group because "they would be at similar stages in life and therefore have more to talk about and connect on."
Like traditional speed dating, participants in the event will hold rapid-fire style conversations with all others in attendance, Stickles said. Initially, each participant will be matched individually for two-minute discussions. Once every participant has met, there will be time for casual mingling.
Stickles believes the event has the power to ignite lasting friendships within the community.
"It gives people a chance to get to know each other, talk face-to-face and perhaps expand their horizons," Stickles said. "Hopefully we see some real friendships start that night with some people who many otherwise not have met."
To register, those interested should call the Olean Public Library at (716)-372-0200 by Feb. 6.