Skip to main content

A Retrospective: Looking Back on Programs Well Done

December 10, 2023

Today I want to share with you some incredibly impactful work that a colleague of mine does. Marcia Fenn's past events, the Blessing Tree (November-December) and Black History Month Scavenger Hunt (February) have been a highlight for Edmondson Pike Library's patrons for several years now. As we are in the midst of the holiday season, I felt it a perfect opportunity to showcase staff's compassion and service to the community.

Marcia Fenn has been a Library Associate at Nashville Public Library's Edmondson Pike Branch since 2021. Over the past three years, she has created and presented multiple popular programs at the Edmondson Pike branch, such as a yearly Breast Cancer Walk, Blessing Tree, and Black History Month Scavenger Hunt. She also runs weekly and monthly programs such as Get Your Walk On, Craft Saturday, The Players Club, and Reading in Color.

Marcia Fenn is Edmondson Pike's Adult Services Library Associate. She has been with Nashville Public Library for more than five years, and has put on countless programs that speak to adult patrons.

The Blessing Tree

SADE JOHNSON: The Blessing Tree works like an Angel Tree and partners with the assisted living facility American House Brentwood. What inspired you to create this program? And why the Blessing Tree and not the Angel Tree?

MARCIA FENN:   The inspiration for the Blessing Tree came from the Salvation Army's Angel Tree. The Angel Tree supports children whose parents may not be able financially to get them items needed for a happy holiday. After spending time with the seniors at American House of Brentwood, I noticed that there are a lot of seniors whose families can't see them often or send gifts to put a smile on their faces.

american house brentwood holiday party
American House residents enjoying their December 2022 holiday party.

The reason it's called a Blessing Tree is to bless the seniors of our community with gifts. A family was there one day when I was doing an outreach program, and the family sat in on the program and told me that it was a blessing to see her family members respond and have fun. The family member expresses that it's hard sometimes to visit due to the financial cost of traveling. So, it makes her heart happy when she talks to her family member and says the lady from Edmondson Pike library is coming today.

So my motto is: "Become A Blessing to Receive A Blessing."

This is also why I hand-make each Angel on the tree to bless those who want to be a blessing.

SADE JOHNSON: Did that same inspiration influence the creation of the Black History Month Scavenger Hunt?

MARCIA FENN:  The inspiration for the Black History Scavenger came about to educate the public on some of the unknown facts about Black History and teach patrons how to use the library system. For the scavenger hunt, patrons must use the Dewey system and the computer catalog to complete the hunt. The hunt lasts four weeks, with each week having three different sets of clues, totaling 12. When the hunt is completed, they get the key to the treasure chest filled with prizes donated by various organizations.

black history month poster collage
Black History Month Scavenger Hunt Signs and Posters

SADE: What was your process when building both programs? How did you decide who to partner with? How do you decide on who and what to focus on?

MARCIA: The process was to create recurring programs that would make patrons come and feel comfortable using the library.

SADE: You meet at American House Brentwood weekly, monthly, and yearly. What has the reception been like by the residents and staff? Do you ever share those stories with branch staff and management?

MARCIA:    I meet two to three times a week at the American House of Brentwood. Once a month, on Mondays, I do Book Bingo. The residents play bingo with a twist (when they get bingo, they shout out BOOK BINGO), and they then receive a book of their choice. These books come from donations given by library patrons or from withdrawn books.

On Tuesdays, I do Movement to Music with the American House residents. This is where residents do crafts, play cards, and plant seeds (from NPL's seed exchange program), all to music.

On Wednesdays each week, the residents and I have an Audiobook Club where the residents listen to and read along with the audio.  

SADE: What would you like to see NPL do more for the community you work with?

MARCIA:  I would like NPL to partner with more assisted living and nursing homes to bring books to life and outreach programs to seniors in the community who may not be mobile.


black history month scavenger hunt
Marcia's Black History Month Scavenger Hunt has been a hit with locals for more than two years. She creates sign-up sheets to keep track of participants (lower right corner); and she partners with multiple businesses and organizations to offer prizes to the top participants (upper left corner). ​

Black History Month Scavenger Hunt

SADE: When thinking of the Black History Scavenger Hunt. Are you ever surprised at what patrons and staff are knowledgeable about when it comes to Black American History?

MARCIA: I am surprised by staff and patrons' lack of knowledge of Black History facts.

SADE: Do you do general U.S. History, or is it more local, or both? And, with that history, is the preference to ease them into Black history or throw them into the deep end? How do you choose the questions you ask and the material you pull?

MARCIA:  My trivia questions come from both local and U.S. History. Some U.S. History is taught in schools, but so much more is not. So, I research to find information I feel people need to know more about.

SADE: Are you excited about the upcoming year? If so, what about?

MARCIA:  Yes, I'm excited about the upcoming year. I will focus on empowerment, education, and self-help programs this year. We all can use this!

SADE: Is there any additional information you'd like to share? Upcoming events/programs? Good books or movies you are excited about?

MARCIA: I plan on improving existing programs and creating new programs that the patrons are asking for. I also plan to provide the best customer service that makes NPL an excellent library.

Marcia is working on her 2024 lineup while focusing on the programs that will close out the year, such as an intimate volunteer appreciation event, a relaxed patron appreciation coffee and pastry event, and the Blessing Tree gift-giving for the residents at American House Brentwood. You can also check out our other exciting events on Nashville Public Library's events page.

Sade with blue mohawk avatar


Sade has been with Nashville Public Library since 2007. She started as a Page, and worked her way up. She loves reviewing books, movies, and restaurants. You can usually find her watching terrible movies and reading speculative fiction and comics. Sade is currently a librarian at the Edmondson Pike Branch Library.