Friday, March 27, 2015

13 Tips to Make Your Movie Night a Blockbuster

Do you show movies in your library? 

There was a great discussion on ALATT back in February about what has worked well at other libraries. Maybe one of these tips will work for you! (And if you are a newbie, definitely read American Libraries' article about why you need to buy a movie license first!) 

1) Show a Movie the Same Day It Comes Out

   If you can see holds on unreleased movies, you can use that to learn what movies your patrons are most interested in. I also like to check out where, on the right, they list the most requested release dates.

2) Show Movie Award Winners and Nominees.

   If you want to have an adult crowd, nothing sparks their interest more than showing the award winners and nominees. Bonus points when you do it close to the voting announcements.

3) Show Family Movies During a Vacation Week.

   What else are parents going to do with their kids? If you are concerned about content, check out Common Sense Media beforehand. They rate all of their movies on areas of concern (nudity, language, violence, etc..).

4) No Shame in Selecting a Popular Title.

  You're tired of hearing about it? That's the perfect movie to show. (Yes, Frozen will still draw large crowds and you don't have to add any other incentive to have them come.)

5) Offer a Fun Raffle Prize

   My best teen movie night was when we raffled a 5 lb Gummy Bear. Teens I never saw before came out for this event! It was so easy and you can order it from Amazon (Yay for places how allow business accounts!).

6) Show the Previous Movie Before the Next Movie Comes to the Theater.

   Who doesn't want a refresher of the first movie before the next one comes out? Bonus points if it is a popular first movie.

7) Pair the Movie with Trivia and Games or a Craft.

   If you want them to leave the comfort of their home, perhaps they need more than a larger screen to come to the library.

8) Try a Film Series.

    Showing multiple films in a series (rather than just randomly) will allow you to build an audience that you can count on.

9) Show a Cult Classic.

    What's more fun than watching your favorite movie with other fans?

10) Show Documentaries.

    Select an interesting subject and plan a discussion afterwards. If documentaries circulate well at your library, you might want to consider this.

11) Show Movies That were Inspired from Books.

    Being a library, is there a better place to meet other readers, watch the movie, and then discuss the differences between the two?

12) Order MuVchat and Allow Your Patrons to Text Right on your Movie Screen.

   A few years ago, YALSA published an article about how this works. Patrons can use their own phones to text messages on your big screen. If they have an iPhone, they can download the app so they aren't charged texting fees. If they don't have a phone, they can use any computer with Windows. It is a completely different way to experience a movie.

13) Create an Interactive Movie.

    I've seen this done for young kids and teens. Have the audience do certain actions that happen within the movie. For example, Oskaloosa Public Library has viewers throw glitter whenever Elsa uses magic, boo when Hans is on-screen and eat carrot noses whenever Sven is around. Eldredge Public Library held a "Jaws, the Experience!" a few summers ago, where tweens and teens were given goody bags of things to do and had them yell "Ah! Shark!" whenever the fish swam on screen. If you want help planning, teens are really good at coming up with ideas.

And there you have it, some successful ideas for when you plan your movie night.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Ready to Go Book Display: Everyday Heroes

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go!" Book Display. Once a month, we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group (Adults, Teens and Children) that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. 

Here's another list as we continue planning for summer reading 2015! This month I will be focusing on Everyday Heroes but check out last month for Superheroes and stay tuned for Villains in April.

Recommendations for Adults:

 Profiles the stories and causes of 50 courageous individuals who made significant differences in the lives of those they helped, in a collection of first-person narratives.

 Glenn Beck provides stories of the people who built America and the people who sought to destroy it.

Recommendations for Teens:
I Am Malala by Malala Yoisafzai (Oct 2013)
Describes the life of the young Pakistani student who advocated for women's right and education in the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley, survived an assassination attempt and became the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. (And later won!)

Girls Who Rocked the World by Michelle Roehm McCann (Oct 2012)
This inspiring collection of stories provides 46 illustrated examples of strong, independent female role models, all of whom first impacted the world as teenagers or younger.

 Recommendations for Children:

Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin (Nov 2010)
 A child demonstrates that while Dad differs from a traditional superhero, as an American soldier he is a superhero of a different kind.

Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin (Apr 2013)
A tribute to moms who serve their country in the military reveals their contributions.

Pet Heroes by Nicole Corse (Feb 2011)
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, especially when they are animals!

Veterans: Heroes in Our Neighborhood by Valerie Pfundstein (Apr 2013)
 A young boy has a school assignment to name every veteran he knows and it turns out that many of his neighbors have served in the military.

Heroes of the Environment by Harriett Rohmer (Aug 2009)
 This inspiring book presents the true stories of 12 people most of them teenagers, from across North America who have done great things for the environment.

Heroes for All Times by Mary Pope Osborne (Jan 2014)
Jack and Annie learn amazing facts about six history-changing individuals.
The United Nations by Katie Marsico (Aug 2014)
Around the world this agency's staff and volunteers are working to provide children with access to medical treatment and education. Find out how this work gets done.
People You Gotta Meet Before You Grow Up by Joe Rhatigan (Feb 2014)
Presents a tribute to the heroes who help keep our neighborhoods safe and provide routine services.
Recommendations for All Ages:

Unlikely Heroes: 37 Inspiring Stories from the Animal Kingdom by Jennifer Holland (Oct 2014)
Stories of acts of animal heroism, including a pod of dolphins that shielded a group of swimmers from a great white shark and a feral male cat who risked everything to protect a kitten in a tornado.

Want more Summer Reading recommendations? Check out last month's post on Superheroes!

Friday, March 13, 2015

International TableTop Day is April 11th!

Board games are on the rise! According to NBC’s Nightly News, the sale of board games is up 10% from last year, totaling 1.5 billion dollars.  Monopoly is up 15%, Operation is up more than 40% , and The Game of Life is up 45%.  This is perfect news for the programming librarian, especially those who want to participate in the International TableTop Day coming up on April 11th.

Haven’t heard this event? It is a relatively new initiative by Geek and Sundry, who produce (amongst other things) the web series TableTop with geek icon, Wil Wheaton. This will be their third year, but their numbers are already impressive. Last year over 80 countries participated, holding 3,000 events.  The beauty of this event is the simplicity - they just encourage people to sit down and play board games. They have a spiffy website at and even host an event calendar that people can post their events on and players can easily see what’s available in their area. (Potential outreach to nonusers of the library!) Wil Wheaton even made a video encouraging participation: 

If that didn't get you excited to join, I don't know what will... If you would like to win an International TableTop Day Game Kit, you have until March 21st to register your event and submit a 1 minute or less video about it.

In the meantime, you can tweet about this event using the hashtag #tabletopday. If you upload your pictures on Instagram and use the hashtag #GatherYourParty, it will automatically be posted on their website at

To get you started, here's a list of great games you can play with a large crowd:
  • Bananagrams
  • Apples to Apples
  • Wise and Otherwise
  • Catch Phrase
  • Pictionary
  • Telestrations
  • Balderdash

Happy gaming!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Scratch Tickets for the Win!

This week on YA-YAAC, there was a discussion about the different ways to run Summer Reading. The focus was on a Summer Reading Bingo card, which I have tried at my library and it bombed. I think it was too complicated for our patrons and Circulation Staff, though I know other libraries have had great success with it. However, I mentioned to the group that I use homemade scratch tickets for my Summer Reading and the interest it garnered prompted me to write this post.

The beauty of this idea is that any librarian can do it, for any age group. It is a fun activity for patrons and it makes a small prize budget go very far. (Our teens were happy to scratch a losing ticket because it meant they got into the Grand Prize Raffle.)

When we did the Bingo card program, I had 46 participants. The year afterwards, I decided to revamp my Summer Reading and take a very simple approach with scratch tickets. It paid off with 269 teens participating. Last year, we beat that number and had 321 teens in the program.

This is how we did it:

Our Goals

  • Make Summer Reading easy!
  • Increase participation.
  • Focus on fun.
  • Eliminate the barrier of registering to participate.
  • Encourage teens to return to the library all summer.
  • Make teens aware of all the library has to offer, most especially reaching those who only come in for their school’s Summer Reading books.

Benefits of Scratch Tickets

  • No registration needed—statistics were gathered on the back of losing tickets or the prize sign-in sheet. (I do have a registration form, which if they fill out, they'll get 3 extra tickets into the Grand Prize Raffle.)
  • It is simple to implement. Staff ask if teens are going into grades 6-12 and automatically hand them a ticket.
  • Teens instantly participated.
  • Staff were excited to have a winner.
  • Prizes were collected right away, eliminating hassle of hunting down winners later.


New 2015 Design!
  • It is time consuming to make so many tickets! But volunteers can easily do it.
  • Circulation staff participation are important since they are the ones handing out the tickets.
  • This program only rewarded those who came to the library often. 
  • Prizes may be a challenge for some libraries, depending on what your budget is. If this is the case, you can adapt this program where instead of having each library item have a certain prize, they can pick a scratch ticket for whatever prize they are hoping to win. I know of another library who holds an auction at the end of Summer Reading and these scratch tickets will award different amounts of book bucks to the patron. So, there are many different ways to use this!

How It Works:

  • You can buy Scratch Ticket Stickers on Amazon. I used to paint them, but when I learned of this in June of 2015, I completely redesigned our tickets to use them -- it worked out great! (If you prefer to make your own, we had used this tutorial: To save on time, we just painted a square over the words instead of painting the whole bottom like they did in the tutorial and we didn't use tape for clean edges.) 
  • 7 categories, 7 major prizes. Fiction and Nonfiction each had 2 midlevel prizes and free books.
  • All categories had lots of small winners, just candy and Summer Reading trinkets.
  • We started off with 2/3rds losing tickets and 1/3rd winning tickets and made more when needed (usually more losing tickets, but I was ready to buy more candy if needed).
  • ALL losing tickets qualified for the GRAND PRIZE RAFFLE, not listed on the Prize Board above.
  • One ticket per day, handed out by Circulation Staff. If they checked out multiple categories, they picked what ticket they wanted.
  • If they lost, they wrote their contact info on the back and the losing ticket would go into the grand prize raffle.
  • If they won, they had to sign a sheet before claiming their prize. (Helped with keeping stats on winners)
  • We made a Prize Board on the wall next to the Circulation Desk and entrance that clearly stated each category and the prizes. As teens won them, we taped "Claim" over the prize. This greatly influenced teens try check out different items based on what was available. 
  • I tallied our participant numbers based on the names on the losing tickets and prize sheets.

NOTE: We only put one major prize in the raffle per week, right on top of the pile so we could control when the big prizes were claimed and could spread it out throughout the whole summer.

What We Learned:

  • There were some teens who were disappointed that they couldn’t log their hours, but as one said, “I loved that [logging hours] when I was younger because I would constantly read in hopes of doing well in the program, but with my job and the crazy amount of summer work we have to do for APs, I didn’t get to read as much as I would have liked.”
  • To accommodate those who are big readers but cannot come to the library often, next year, we are creating a category for book reviews.  One ticket per review.
  • Despite the fact that we give out prizes for non-books, books by far were the top checkouts. In 2014, 82.6% were book/audiobook checkouts. Of course, we didn’t release the major prize in these categories until towards the end of Summer Reading to encourage reading.
  • In 2014,  41% won at least once. All major and midlevel prizes were won by a different person.
  • We used to add the Summer Reading theme to the tickets, but decided to go generic so we can reuse the leftovers the following year!


You can double click and copy our free template to get started! We just ask that you comment on this blog that you're using it. The circles on the left fit the 1 inch Scratch Ticket Stickers from Amazon. Just add your text and you're ready to go!

Follow Up Information:

I have been getting a lot of similar questions, so here's additional information:

1. How did you stagger your winning tickets?  Was there a rhyme or reason?
Did you ever find you had a bunch of unclaimed prizes?

I staggered the small prizes with the losing tickets (this was candy, Summer Reading swag, and free books). However, my $25 gift cards and the bigger prizes, I kept out of the pile. I had enough so that I only gave away one gift card each week and then sporadically added the other prizes in.

To ensure these big prizes were claimed, I laid them on top of the pile so the next person would win it (I didn't want to worry about people never reaching the prize. I guess you can say the random part was for me -- I never knew which teen was going to walk through the door and win it). Everyone walked away with their prize, so I didn't have any prizes leftover... except for candy and the other small prizes, since I never could be sure how many people would participate and I wanted to give them choices.

2. Did you base how many winning tickets you had on the number of teens
participating or was it random?

I had no idea that first year how many people would participate, so I counted up my summer reading swag and looked at the candy piece amount listed on the bags and made that many winning small prizes. I doubled that number and made the rest for losing tickets. So, basically, every third person should win something. I ended up having to make more halfway during summer reading, but you'll know how many more to make when you check the piles. Once you complete one year, you'll have a good idea of how many tickets to make the next time. (And, honestly, halfway through the summer, I just add in more losing tickets since I figured by this point, teens don't have to win so often. They should be hooked!)

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other posts on Summer Reading!

17 Ways to Accomplish Summer Reading
50+ Ideas for Summer Reading Swag that Make Your Patrons Dance
Ready to Go Book Display: Villains, Superheroes, and Everyday Heroes