Go for the Gold! – Adult Winter Reading Program

I do not yet work in a public library.  But someday, when I do, I want to make sure that the library offers reading programs for adults.  Even the small public library I worked at in high school had a children’s summer reading program, but nothing for adults.  If the children get the summer, the adults can have the winter.

Olympic-Themed Adult Winter Reading Program

Because 2014 is a year for Winter Olympics (my favorite), I thought it would be neat to plan a Winter Reading Program based loosely on the Olympics.  I looked at several different adult winter reading programs that libraries around the country offer (which I will list below) to come up with an idea that would work with an Olympic theme.  Here is the video promo I created for the program:

The Reading Challenges for the Winter Reading Program

The San Luis Obispo County Library hosted an Adult Winter Reading Program in 2013 that required participants to complete 8 different reading accomplishments and watch a DVD in order to win a prize.  I liked that their challenges required participants to go outside their comfort zones at least a little bit and explored multiple areas of the collection.  They even called it a bit like a scavenger hunt, which is fun, too.  I used some of their challenges and adapted others to create some new ones:

  1. Read one of the books that was on the New York Times bestseller list December 22, 2013 (which would be the list just after the official start of winter).
  2. Read a fiction or non-fiction book with an animal in the title.
  3. Watch a DVD and then listen to the movie soundtrack.
  4. Read a non-fiction book dealing with music, conspiracies, or travel.
  5. Listen to or read a book published in 2011 or later on audiobook or e-book format.
  6. Read a fiction or non-fiction book set in or about a particular season.
  7. Read a collection of short stories.
  8. Read a book written by a Russian or Eastern European author.
  9. Read a fiction or non-fiction book set in the 18th century.
  10. Attend a program from the approved list of programs.

Earning Olympic reading medals

Unlike the San Luis Obispo County Library, my Adult Winter Reading Program does not require everyone to complete all the challenges in order to compete for prizes.  To fit with the Olympic theme, readers can earn medals based on the number of challenges they complete.

  • Bronze medal – To win a bronze medal, participants must complete 5 of the reading challenges
  • Silver medal – To win a silver medal, participants must complete 8 of the reading challenges
  • Gold medal – To win a gold medal, participants must complete all 10 reading challenges


Like all good competitions, there must be prizes!  It would be really neat to create merchandise specifically for this program, like cups, pens/pencils, magnets, post-it notes, tote bags, T-shirts and the like that had a fun Olympic-y logo.  However, that can be very expensive and library budgets are suffering.

Instead, this would be a good opportunity to connect with local businesses and try to garner donations in the form of gift cards or other free merchandise.  It is good for them because it gets their name out and it is good for the library because it gives them prizes.

Other Adult Public Library Winter Reading Programs

  • The Normal Public Library Adult Winter Reading Program has adults log how many minutes they spend reading.  I like that parents reading to their children can count towards their minutes spent reading.
  • Since 2009, the Kansas City Public Library has been hosting a themed Adult Winter Reading Program to “encourage leisure reading among adults.”  I like that they encourage people to read beyond their comfort zone and promote potentially overlooked books.  They provide suggested reading lists that support the theme such as:
  • While the City Sleeps entices readers to explore fiction and nonfiction, the interplay of light and dark, the shadows of the human soul and the brightness of the human spirit.

  • The Timberland Regional Library Adult Winter Reading Program from 2013 had several grand prizes which participants could win.  Every time participants finished five books and completed the reading program form, they were entered to win a grand prize.  I like that readers can enter more than once if they have read an additional five books.
  • The Marion County Public Library System hosted a “Let it Snow” Adult Reading Program.  Participants who finish at least one book and submit their reading log are eligible to win a “Literary Latte” basket.  The library also encourage participants to come in on Tuesday mornings for coffee, tea, and treats to discuss what they are reading with other readers.  They also offer help with e-readers during that time (and I’m sure at other times, too).  I like the social aspect included in this program.
  • The Monroe County Public Library combines adults and teens together in one Winter Reading Program.  There are winners drawn for weekly prizes as well as drawings for grand prizes at the end of the program.  I like the weekly drawings because it probably keeps the momentum going for some people.

For even more ideas, be sure to check out these other library winter reading programs:

Does your library do an Adult Winter Reading Program?

If so, how is it set up?  What do you require of your readers?  What has been most successful (or not) for your particular library?  Do you know why something did or did not work?  Share your stories in the comments below.


Adult Programming Ideas for International Games Day at the Library

Happy 11-12-13!

Picture of tiles from Rummikub

It’s 11-12-13!  Like the Rummikub tiles for a post on games?  I do. 🙂
CC via der_dennis on Flicker

It is easy to fall into the mindset that games are for kids or that adults do not really play games.  But for International Games Day (IGD) on November 16, 2013, don’t forget about your adult patrons!

What is International Games Day?

International Games Day is an initiative through the American Library Association (ALA) wherein libraries from across the world play games on the same day (or a day close to the same day) as a means of connecting with their communities.  As described on the IGD website, ALA coordinates two parallel activities: a national video game tournament and the Global Gossip Game (like telephone but traveling from library to library on all 7 continents).  Check out the IGD site for more information on both of those.

Why would a library promote gaming?

The IGD website hosted a series of talking points over the summer for reasons why libraries should host and promote games.  One of the quotes I like from their introductory post is:

Ultimately what a library is about is providing a place where a community can share culture, information, ideas, beauty – where human thought can be made accessible for people to engage in self-directed study and exploration.

And, as they say, every culture basically has some form of games.  I will let you check out both the IGD Talking Points posts and the quotes and videos featured on I Love Libraries for more information on why games in libraries are awesome.

Games for Adult Programming on International Games Day

Children play games all the time.  Teachers frequently use games to help students understand concepts in school.  Gaming teaches socialization skills, and, depending on the game, cooperation skills.  Techno Sky talks about studies done on the effects of video games on retention and other skills over at Tech2Games.

But kids don’t have to stop playing games when they get older.  There are plenty of games to interest all types of adult players.  Below are just a very few examples of the different types of games you could offer your adult patrons during International Games Day.  And this doesn’t even include video games options!

Party Games

Party games can generally include a lot of people.

Party games can generally include a lot of people and hilarity often ensues.

Party games are typically games that can accommodate many players, generally in teams.  Frequently the games can cause a lot of laughter, so beware, you might just have fun!  Some examples of party games are

  • Say Anything
  • Telestrations
  • Pictionary
  • Cranium
  • Apples to Apples
  • Outburst
  • Taboo
  • Balderdash
  • Scattergories

Card Games

Picture of several different types of card games.

Card games come in many types.

Card games can range anywhere from traditional card games suited playing cards (like Gin, Hearts, or Spades) to specific card games (like Phase 10, Skip Bo, or UNO).

Traditional Board Games

Composite picture of several different traditional board games.

So many types of board games exist to play!

Traditional board games is actually a bit of a misnomer.  I call it traditional board games because the games I consider “traditional” (along with chess, checkers, backgammon, Mancala, and Chinese Checkers), are Monopoly, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and other fun family games like that.  Again, others may not exactly consider them to be traditional, but there are already several categories of games!


Picture of several different types of Eurogames

Looking for something different? Give a Eurogame a try.

Eurogames, also known as German-style games, can seem very complicated if you are unfamiliar with them.  If you know people who play these types of games, it can be helpful for new players to watch before they play, or to have someone explain the game to them.

If no one at your library owns any of this type of game, you may try to partner with a local gaming store to borrow demo versions.  This will hopefully also encourage potential patrons to partake in your IGD celebration and see what the library is like these days.

The games pictured are truly just a small portion of this category of games.  Some other popular games are:

  • Red Dragon Inn
  • Forbidden Island
  • Dominion
  • Ascension
  • Agricola
  • Race for the Galaxy
  • Small World

What is your library doing for International Games Day?

Is your library participating in IGD13?  What types of games are they offering?  Do you have games for adults to play, too?  Let me know in the comments.

Spooktacular Library Events

Halloween (and holidays in general) are a great time to engage with your patrons.

Halloween pumpkin decorations

Image CC licensed courtesy of flickr user Yabby

Halloween can be as scary or as cutesy as you want it to be.  At a library, somewhere in the middle may be best.  Let me share a couple of ways that libraries have incorporated Halloween activities for adults.

Spooky Spell Yeah

For anyone who missed Genre-X’s sessions at the ALA conference, you really missed out.  Luckily, you can access their conference handouts and notes at the Oak Park Public Library website (scroll down to the bottom for the handouts, but check out the other information, too!).

Spell Yeah competition

Previous Spell Yeah competition
Image CC licensed courtesy of Oak Park Public Library

With Halloween coming up, Genre X is taking one of their annual events, Spell Yeah, and turning it into a Halloween event: Spooky Spell Yeah.  They are encouraging people to come in costume, and rewarding those that do by giving them two free drinks on the house.  Yes, this is an event with a cash bar.  I’ll go into alcohol at libraries more in depth at a later time (the homebrewing got me thinking).

Read about the success of their previous Spell Yeah events here.

Literary Halloween Costume Contest

It is not always easy to get adults to dress up in costumes.  But some people really enjoy having the opportunity to do so, and what better way to help them out than to host a costume contest?

Hanging costumes

Costumes galore!
Image via CC license by flickr user arcticpenguin

The Stockwell-Mudd Library at Albion College in Michigan hosted a Literary Halloween Costume Contest.  This is a fantastic idea!  Encourage patrons to come up with literary-inspired costumes.  A panel of librarian judges can determine whose costume is the best.

If I were to dress up, I would probably be Marvin from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Who would you dress up as?

To Brew or Not to Brew? Homebrewing at the Library

I have seen some examples of libraries doing programs on how to homebrew your own beer (or cider or mead, for that matter). And personally, I think it’s great!

Picture of beer brewing in a closet

40 Gallons of Homebrewed Goodness

I happen to know quite a few homebrewers and many others who have either dabbled in it or are considering learning to brew. In fact, for my birthday, my husband developed a recipe for a vanilla porter which he will forever have to make for me because it is my new favorite beer. But I digress…

I was thinking about how to logistically put on a homebrewing program in a library. I mean, there is flame involved. And boiling. And chilling. And at the end of the program, you are not going to have a beer that is ready for attendees to drink. So what are the options for doing this?

Quick Break-Down

  • Brew outside
  • Show and tell with equipment and ingredients
  • Bring samples (check local/state laws)
  • Schedule a break

Brew OutsideBurner and pot

If you are actually going to demonstrate how to brew during a program, I would recommend using an outdoor space. Using a burner like the one at right and a portable gas tank, there is less risk of a fire inside or of the pot boiling over and making quite a mess. This would therefore probably work best as a spring or early fall program so people do not freeze or burn while outside.

Beer ingredientsShow and Tell

Next, there will be some down time during the brewing process where there is not a lot of procedure to explain. At this point the brewer is just waiting for time to pass until the next step. Better fill that time explaining some differences in beers or about different ingredients or equipment you could use to brew (perhaps a show and tell). There will be some lecturing, but it won’t really feel like a lesson.

Bring Samples

If at all possible, depending on legal feasibility, etc., I would recommend the brewer bring a few different types of beers/ales/lagers for the attendees to try. For some people, they may not realize all the different types of beers that exist and just came to the program because it said “beer” on the sign. Having this opportunity to introduce them to new flavors they can make themselves may entice people to start brewing.

Schedule Breaks

From my experience with homebrewing, it could take a good 2-1/2 – 3 hours for the actual brewing process. You should probably schedule in a break so that people can get up and walk around, ask the brewer questions, and have some snacks.

Awesome Brewing Event to Benefit the Library

The Indian Valley Public Library in Telford, PA hosted a fundraising event called Brews for Books.  The event included a homebrew competition where event attendees voted on the beers to determine whose beer they liked best.  Other craft beers from around the country were served at the event as well.

All of the proceeds from this fundraiser went to the public library (awesome!).

Banned Books Week Matching Game

Once again, it is that time of year.  Banned Books Week is upon us (September 22 – 28, 2013) and halfway over now!

Banner of banned books

As librarians, we need to stand up for our patron’s rights to read whatever they choose and to fight censorship.  As the American Library Association (ALA) puts it, Banned Books Week allows us to “draw national attention to the harms of censorship.”  So, how are some libraries doing this?  Let’s take a look.

Libraries Raising Awareness

Check out some of the ways public libraries are interacting with their patrons to celebrate Banned Books Week and raise awareness.

Also check out these library crime scenes for reading banned books from years past:

  • The Spencer Public Library set up caution tape around a chair and throughout the day a librarian would sit in the chair and read a banned book.  There was a sign attached to the area that said “This librarian is reading a banned or challenged book.”
  • Oak Park Public Library took mugshots of their staff and patrons holding either a banned/challenged book or a sign that said “Caught reading banned books.”
  • Dayton Metro Library caged its staff and librarians one year and another year, they created a caged area where patrons could go read banned books within the cage.
  • In 2011, the Moore Memorial Public Library, with help from some of their teen patrons, staged a crime scene with book “victims.”

You should also check out what the Magpie Librarian is doing this year for Banned Books Week.  It’s pretty awesome!

And these are just the tip of the iceberg.  There are so many more out there!

So… about this Matching Game?

I really liked the trading card idea that I saw floating around in 2012 during banned books week.  Lawrence Public Library seemed to the be the library I saw featured for this idea.  It seems they are doing it again this year.  From a *very* brief search, it appears Chapel Hill Public Library is doing something similar this year.

Matching Game screenshot

I decided that I wanted to use the card idea, but make it an online matching game.  Ideally, you would have to match a brief synopsis of the book to the cover/title of the book.  Unfortunately, my tech skills are not quite so mad as to be able to figure out how to match two items with different appearances.  For now, the matching game is played the traditional way – match two identical covers of books that have been banned.  Unfortunately, you can’t test it out right now because the server I use for it is down, so you are stuck seeing the screenshot only.  Sorry.

I think it would be great to have a link to this game on a library home page, so that people who are interested could play a quick game.  It is a form of passive programming and can reach some of the virtual library users.

You could also make a physical version of it and have an area set up where patrons and/or librarians could play during Banned Books Week.  And, because you have control over the cards you make and are not limited by my poor coding skills, you can make as many different covers as you want.  You could also incorporate the idea of matching the synopsis to the book.

What about you?

What is your library doing this year?  What have they done in the past?  Have you seen anything recently that really inspires you?  Share it!