When asked to come up with some ideas for the Adult Summer Reading Program, to add to what was already planned, I struggled with how to appeal to a different library population. In our small town library, the same people generally come to book clubs, foreign films and speaker events. This population is devoted to the library, and many of them belong to the Friends of the Library organization. We are grateful for their support, but I really wanted to bring in some new patrons.
My first thought was that I wanted to appeal to working parents and families, who can’t come in to storytimes and children’s daytime events due to work schedules. Unfortunately, that territory appears to involve some toe-stepping and political wrangling so that idea is being tabled for now…. but not forgotten.
My second thought was to appeal to an audience interested in pure entertainment, as a way to introduce a new population to all the library has to offer. We all love to be intellectual and talk about the latest bestseller and watch some award-winning new film, but most of us also love a good romance, a trashy novel, and some mindless entertainment that just appeals to our emotions and helps us to relax – hence my library’s “Chick Flicks” program was born.
I have now done two Chick Flicks for the summer program, and it is having a successful enough start that I am being allowed to continue it beyond the dates of the Summer Reading Program. My Chick Flick evening includes free refreshments (my donation) and a big screen projector in the library’s Community Room. Our first film, Chocolat, brought in 17 people, many of whom had never been to a library event! I served my famous chocolate brownies with a creamy ganache, and red velvet cupcakes baked by my daughter.
The next month, many of those patrons came back – and some new folks arrived. This time, the film was Under the Tuscan Sun, with antipasto and Italian cookies…but I added a twist. I really wanted the library to be open before the movie for patron use but that requires two staff people, per library policy, and I am doing this event solo. The library closes at 5 on Fridays, two hours before the event, so I got permission from my director to bring the books to the movie and do a manual checkout. I gathered Italian Cookbooks and other novels of Italy, as well as many books we had by Frances Mayes, the Under the Tuscan Sun author. Only three books were checked out…but three is better than none – and many people looked at the collection. I am not giving up and plan to try it again next month.
Next month is Calendar Girls….A great Chick Flick that will require me to bake sticky buns, of course, and raises the issue of fundraising for good causes! The real-life calendar girls of Yorkshire raised over £2 million for leukemia research! Most of us are familiar with the Men of the Stacks calendar…who knows, maybe this will be the new way we fund libraries?