By Melissa Perkins, MLIS, M.Ed.
Halloween ghouls, harvest cornucopias, jolly St. Nicks, shining Menorahs, and pumpkins galore! Yes, it’s that time again. The holiday season is beginning, and libraries are leading the charge in planning and hosting festive celebrations. Walk into any library at the beginning of fall, and you’ll be greeted with holiday décor and at least five invitations to events ranging from toddler tomfoolery to mature mischief-making.
As the year wanes, the traditional holidays are in full force and dominate library event calendars. But what can be done once the holiday “high-season” has evaporated and people start looking toward spring? Once the last Valentine has been given and shamrock has been wished upon, what holiday celebrations can a library use to promote literacy and to advertise its helpful programs? Are we doomed to wait until the Fourth of July before another gala event can be offered to the public? No, not at all, there are many ideas and activities that libraries can draw upon to promote community interaction and visitation throughout the year.
These events are about more than just giving patrons a good time; they function as library calling cards. Throwing open the doors of the library to the neighborhood for some social engagement can go a long way towards motivating people to visit, use, and benefit from the library on a regular basis.
Following are just a few library holiday celebration ideas that have been implemented by libraries across the country:
March: Instead of resorting to the ubiquitous “Spring has sprung” motif, libraries could celebrate Dr. Seuss Day on March 2 by throwing a Whoville costume party live webcast with read-alongs of Dr. Seuss books. Use social media to not only promote the event, but also invite people to participate live online.
April: While we’re examining springtime celebrations, let us not forget National Library Week in April. Try hosting an “April is for Authors” event and ask notable authors (representing juvenile, young adult, and adult literature) present to meet and greet the guests (community members). This event could last for several days, giving people multiple opportunities to enjoy the festivities and check out books, while taking selfies with their favorite authors.
May: Want to put Comic-Con to shame? Celebrate Star Wars Day on May 4. “May the Fourth be with you!” Yes, I know that reaches into the realm of geekdom, but there are multitudes of wannabe Jedi Knights who would love an opportunity to “Jedi mind-trick” a librarian or two.
June: The long, hot days of June can grow rather monotonous. But don’t despair. Alleviate boredom with a little ingenuity and an open mind. Host a lasagna, pizza, and ice cream social while celebrating Garfield the Cat Day on June 19. With food, books, and fun, you can’t go wrong with these summertime activities. Also, if your library actively promotes multiculturalism, perhaps you could host an event that is both literary and cultural. One such event is the Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan) celebration. Incorporate the breaking of the Ramadan fast with the awesome story collection “One Thousand and One Nights” (commonly known as the “Arabian Nights”). The story of Aladdin could be used as a focal point, and the celebration could be called “Night of Wishes Fulfilled.” This event could include storytelling, gifts of books, food, and games. In 2019, Ramadan starts in May and ends on June 4. Incidentally, Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar and moves around on the solar (Gregorian) calendar by approximately 11 days each year.
July: Okay, I know what you’re thinking. The month of July is covered by the Fourth of July, right? No, not really. The Fourth is at the beginning of the month. It’s summertime, so we’ve got loads of time on our hands! We need another reason to celebrate at the library, so let’s celebrate Harry Potter Day on July 31, when “the boy who lived” was born (not coincidentally, the fictional Harry shares a birthday with author J.K. Rowling). Such Hogwarty magical fun could be planned for this special event!
August: Book Lovers Day falls on August 9. Why not promote the love of the written word by hosting a “Bookworm Day” party? Have guests submit lovers’ notes (written on paper bookworms) addressed to their favorite book and/or author, and enter them into a prize drawing for the most creative note. In addition to offering delicious snacks and icy bookworm pudding pops, set up a display of new blockbuster novels. Ask newly-published novelists to perform book readings, engage in discussions, and sign any books they have to offer.
September: September is typically the month that people use to prepare for the “high holiday” seasonal festivities. Unfortunately, as a month of celebration, it’s a bit neglected. However, there is a September literary holiday which could be useful. It’s called “Baggins Day.” It occurs on the 22nd and acknowledges the birthdays of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy fame. This event is perfect for hobbit lovers. It consists of great Shire entertainment, such as music, (maybe even fireworks), food (including two bagged breakfasts), and plenty of frolicking under the “party tree.”
October: As we draw closer to Halloween, we can indulge in one last literary celebration before officially entering into the “high holiday” season: Mad Hatter Day, which dawns on October 6. This celebration was created in honor of the famously comical character from the classic title “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland.” It is celebrated on the 6th because the price tag located on the Hatter’s hat clearly reads “10/6” (ten shillings and six pence). With this holiday, librarians and staff members can be as crazy as March Hares, creating the silliest literary fun imaginable. Personally, I would suggest that hats be involved.
We’ve come to the conclusion of our year’s worth of enjoyment and camaraderie. If your library celebrates some unique holidays, please share them in the comments section. New ideas are always appreciated!
Melissa has worked in an assortment of academic, corporate, and public libraries. One of her major passions is sharing the magical world of stories, information, and ideas with the masses. Click here for more.