A story in the Orlando Sentinel talks about how the librarians at the Volusia County Public Library used ALA-approved software to make "READ" trading cards. Instead of featuring cartoon characters or athletes, the cards featured members of the County Council with their favorite books.
Unsurprisingly, the kiddies were confused.
Why did the librarians decide to use local political figures? According to the story because it was an original idea.
I don't mean to call out the VCPL. They had a good idea. In theory.
I like the idea of featuring local "celebrities" on READ posters or trading cards. But unless you follow local politics, you might not know who those people were. Why not feature people like local TV news anchors or local pitchmen for merchants that kids might see on TV? You can pick good role models for kids while, at the same time, picking faces that they recognize.
When I was little, I loved the weatherman on the TV station we watched. I would have loved to see him on a READ poster holding his favorite book.
Or imagine the kid who is a sports nut and lives for the sports part of the newscast. Imagine how excited that kid would be to see the local sports anchor with his favorite book.
Imagine the chance for non-readers to connect with books that their role models love.
More importantly, if the story is being run in the Orlando paper, why not see if the the Orlando Magic would be willing to partner with your library? They have a community page with a link to their youth foundation. It is possible that the Magic would have sent a few lesser-name players to take photos with books.
The problem with a good idea that doesn't go so well but that makes the newspaper is that you get negative publicity for your library. The tone of the article makes my skin crawl. There's this unspoken tone of 'hey you idiots, why'd you do that?' And, if you're VCPL, it seems like you might want to have a better answer than the one they gave.
If your library board reads this article, are they going to pat you on the back and tell you what a good job you did?
Yeah, I don't think so either.
Granted I don't know VCPL's thought process, or do I know what kind of legwork they did before they rolled out this idea. It seems to me, though, that this idea would have been much more successful if the people chosen had been more recognizable to the youth.