Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Movies @ the Library

It's hot in Missouri in the summer. I was aware of that weather fact when, in late spring, I was finalizing my summer programming plans and scheduled four movie events. I had no idea, however, just how perfectly I had named these events until we had twelve consecutive days of 100+ temperatures. You see, I call these movie programs "Beat the Heat Movie Treat." How perfect.

On four Fridays during summer reading--two in June, two in July--I host the Beat the Heat Movie Treat programs. The premise is simple: show a movie from the library's collection for a program. This program format is directly in line with one of our programming goals, which is to utilize and promote the library's diverse collections. Just because movies are already popular, high-circulating items doesn't mean they shouldn't get a bit of programming time, too, I reason. Also, movie events like this make for some solid passive programming: minimal work, solid engagement and use of the collection.

To maximize the appeal of these programs, I chose to screen the four children's movies with the highest numbers of reserve requests (That's Puss in Boots, Hugo, The Adventures of Tintin, and Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chipwrecked for us). My rationale in choosing these movies is twofold: 1) they are obviously popular and are thus recognizable, easy-to-promote titles; and 2) with so many reserve requests, a family can expect to have to wait a month or more before getting to borrow the movie from the library. Beat the Heat Movie Treat provides a way to see some popular movies without the wait time (so long as the movies are covered by your public performance license, of course!).

Another big draw: we show the movie in a nicely air-conditioned room during the hottest part of the day. The large projection of the movie onto a big white wall makes the program akin to visiting the movie theatre, albeit for free. The movie is bigger than a viewer would get at home, the space is cool after a hot, humid morning... And we provide some snacks. Popcorn is a must, and lately I've been offering some small individually-wrapped candies or snack cakes, too, along with water and juice. As for seating, kids and their grown-ups decide whether they want to sit in chairs or stack sit-upon cushions on the ground in front of the screen. I also provide a selection of watch-alike films for check-out following the main attraction. Then, when the lights go down and the movie begins, it's 90-120 minutes of visual story, tasty snacks, and cool relaxation. Not a bad way to spend a library visit, I'd say.

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