Annoyed Librarian
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How Does Your Library Promote Fake Celebrations?

As you stumble back to work after your long Labor Day weekend, you can perk yourself up by remembering that September marks the ALA’s most boring fake celebration of all: National Library Card Sign-up Month, which is “a time to remind parents and children that a library card is the most important school supply of all.”

Awwww, that’s sweet.

I found about 25 news articles about libraries celebrating National Library Card Sign-up Month, so the national media saturation is as thorough as articles about how librarians don’t fit librarian stereotypes anymore.

Even Norway is celebrating National Library Card Sign-up Month. At first I wondered if those Norwegians are so desperate for fake celebrations they have to steal ours.

My favorites are the articles that show real excitement about signing up for a library card by putting an exclamation point at the end of the headline. For example, we’re commanded to Hit a Home Run with the Greenfield Public Library!

This celebration is different than others I’ve seen, because it combines NLCSM with an oddly structured chance to get baseball tickets.

Greenfield Public Library welcomes you with a  Brewer fan-tastic promotion for Milwaukee County residents applying for their first library card. Apply for your first library card at the Greenfield Public Library during September and you are eligible to participate. Participants will receive a game card and instructions.  Upon completing the contest, patrons will be entered into a drawing for a $50.00 gift card for Brewers tickets!

So, if you’re applying for your first library card, and you complete some sort of game or contest, you then get entered into a drawing for a ticket gift card? At that point, it would probably be easier just to buy your own tickets and skip the library completely.

They’re awfully excited in Park Ridge, IL, too, where they want to show you 30 Days/30 Ways to Use Your Library Card! The idea is that patrons come in every day and learn a new way to use their library card. Patrons would probably prefer a nice brochure instead. At least when you come in you get a “chance to win a Nook Simple Touch eReader!”

They are just as excited about NLCSM in Brainerd, MN, where the local news organ tells us to Sign Up for a Library Card in Sept! I like this promotion better than the baseball one, and not just because I couldn’t care less about baseball.

When children ten years old and under sign up for their first library card in September they will have the opportunity to receive a canvas book bag and a free book of their own!

Wow, the Brainerd Dispatch is sure excited about library cards! And with good reason. This promotion is targeting the only people likely to get truly excited about getting a library card: children. That’s because children get excited about having any form of identification. It makes them feel grown up.

Plus, there’s none of this wishy-washy nonsense about a drawing. Get a card and the kid gets a tote bag and a book. Next thing you know, the poor kid will be thinking about library school.

These are more exciting than some of the other promotions, such as getting free replacement library cards in September or getting a library card with a new design on it that you still have to pay a dollar for if you already have a card. Yawn.

At least the Vernon Area Public Library in Vernon Area, IL is raffling off an iPod Nano and a Nook for new patrons. The iPod Nano is soooo 2005, but maybe the Nook is one of those snazzy Nook Color ones. Probably not, though, or they would have been more excited!

I wonder how many people without library cards would actually be tempted by a chance to win an iPod Nano or some Milwaukee Brewers tickets. Is someone really sitting around thinking, you know what I could use, some baseball tickets and a trip to the library!

It must be hard coming up with promotions for what is such a lame “celebration,” which is probably why a lot of libraries don’t bother. I checked the website for my public library and there’s no sign of an NLCSM “celebration.” I also found that their website is way too cluttered.

Maybe, just maybe, it would be better to do without the fake celebrations. Reading through those articles just made the librarians sounds desperate, with all their talk about library cards being the “smartest card in your wallet.” The smartest card in my wallet is that one that I hand people at stores and they give me stuff in return, and that one works everywhere but the library.

Besides, I’m worried all this fake celebrating will distract people from the biggest ALA fake celebration of all, Band Books Week, coming soon.



  1. AnneFrances says:

    Dear Annoyed–
    I love your pointed commentary. Alas, I’m one of those PR Library People who regularly submit fake celebrations to the media. Here are my reasons:
    1. Who cares if the media prints it? The release also goes to our board, friends, foundation, and anyone else I can put on my list so they know I am “doing my job.”
    2. It makes easy copy for the web–especially the canned editorials. It’s also good for those civic presentations (hey, we have a celebration EVERY MONTH of the year)
    3. If it does get published, it gets our name out in the community. Works great if you buy ads.

    Can’t wait to see what you have to say about banned book week.

  2. “Band Books Week” There is a week dedicated to books about bands? I hope it’s cool rock bands like the Who and Aerosmith and not marching bands. Not that there’s anything wrong with marching bands…

    • Now that’s a “fake” celebration that might actually be fun. Of course we librarians would no doubt find a way to “geek it up.” Not that there’s anything wrong with geeks…

  3. AL, That’s BANNED Books Week, you know.

    If it were actually BAND Books Week, we’d be celebrating our favorite memoirs by rock’n roll stars or books on how to nail that latest marching band routine.

  4. davidinvirginia says:

    It’s a slow blog day.

  5. I think I’ll raise a ruckus at my local library to get Keith Richards’ sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll memoir, Life, removed from the shelves. Then we can celebrate Banned Band Books Week.

  6. we need more fake celebrations, not fewer. if hot dogs and milk and Saved By the Bell fans can have a month, then libraries should have a celebration every month; here are the next 2:
    October is “Things that Terrify Fundamentalist Christians” Month, Books and movies about Witches, Demons and Harry Potter take center-pentagram during October at the library. Oh, and throw in some dinosaurs.

    November is “Guess the Stain in the Library Book” Month.
    The library will put one stained book in a display case and visitors can enter their guess on the submission form. After the stain is tested at a local lab, the winner will receive one gallon of hand sanitizer and a tetanus shot.

  7. Dalek Caan says:

    Fake celebrations for a fake profession.

  8. lmao @ the.effing.librarian

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