The last days before break at our upper school level are filled with deadlines and nervous energy. Along with this comes an uptick the most frustrating phrase I hear at least once a week: “High schoolers don’t have time to read”. We librarians know this is untrue and during finals it is especially important to remind students (and faculty) of the value of reading for pleasure.
With all of this in mind, I used the prospect of winter break as an impetus to remind folks to read. Inspired by Melissa Ahart’s summer checkout party, I threw a “Winter Break Checkout Party” during our flex and lunch periods. To advertise, I made an announcement at morning meeting earlier in the week and reminded students that a great way to get grown-ups to leave you alone during winter break is to have your face in a book. Then the morning of the party, I sent an email with event details and links to our ebook collections. I also used these moments as an opportunity to plug our Mock Printz collection.
It took about half an hour to set up the room. I used spare book stands and stacked books to turn two tables of the library into a bookstore. I placed decorative masking tape directly on the tables to label the categories of books. In addition to our Mock Printz books, we chose to highlight essays, short stories, and “as seen on tv”; these being some of the most accessible and easy-to-sell books. Our library assistant Camilla set up a special checkout desk with string lights, bookmarks, and treats. The final touch was putting a “yule log”-type screensaver on our display tv. I chose “Winter at Hogwarts”.
Using our retail skills, Camilla and I walked around the room chatting up our students and recommending books. All in all, our circulation was significantly higher than most days of the year. We were thrilled with the connections we made with regular and new patrons of the library.
Special thanks to Camilla Yohn-Barr who contributed so much to the planning, set-up, implementation, and general awesomeness of this event.
Anna Murphy is Upper School Librarian at Berkeley Carroll; she is also HVLA treasurer.