Books, Food & Fun: Hosting an Edible Book Festival

Yesterday, my library hosted its first Edible Book Festival. With minimal planning and volunteers, we pulled it off. Traditionally, libraries hold an Edible Book Festival on or around April 1, to honor Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, author of Physiologie du gout (The Physiology of Taste), who is generally regarded as an early “foodie”. My library held its event today to honor our 40th anniversary.

If you’ve never planned an Edible Book Festival before, it’s easy to do and it’s a great way to get your community, school, or university involved. Here are a few pointers if you are interested in planning such an event.

  • Look around online for some examples and inspiration: Start with the International Edible Book Festival website. Here are a few libraries and organizations that have hosted an edible book event:
  • Determine categories for the event such as: Best Individual Entry, Best Group Entry, Best in Show, “Punniest,” Most Likely to Be Eaten
  • Help answer the question, What is an Edible Book? by providing an explanation:
    • “Edible books can look like a book in form and shape, be inspired by a book or author, can be a pun of a book title, can refer to a book character, reproduce a book cover, or just have something to do with books in general.”
    • Help people visualize what an edible book can be made from: “Entries may be made from anything that is edible (cake, bread, crackers, Jell-o, fruit, vegetables, candy, etc.) as long as it can sit out for an hour or two without melting, turning bad, or getting scary.”
  • Promotion: Use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to promote the event. We also created a campus flyer and got a story in our university’s daily email announcement.
  • Reach out to local groups that might be interested in the event (elementary, middle & high schools, restaurants, culinary schools, libraries).
  • We created a Libguide that displayed information for people that might be interested in the event.
  • Some libraries collect an entry fee (e.g., $2.00 for individual entries, $5.00 for group entries) and donate the proceeds to a local soup kitchen, food pantry, or charity.
  • Some institutions may have to seek a waiver from their parent organization for serving food.
  • Create an entry form (paper or electronic). Ask for: entry type (individual or group), contact info, title of entry, book/title/author that inspired the entry, special needs (like space, electricity, etc…), and whether or not the entrant plans to bring along a copy of the book that inspired the creation (otherwise the library should plan to get a copy).
  • On the entry form, emphasize the need for safe food handling practices and that the entrants should bring a utensil to cut/carve their creation.
  • Create placards for each of the entrants with the book title, name, etc…
  • Have utensils, cups, and plates for the day of the event.
  • On the day of the event: have entrants bring their creations at least 30 minutes to 1 hour beforehand, to allow for set-up.
  • Leave some time for judging. We had ballots printed up and used a popular vote methods. Other libraries use guest “judges.”
  • Arrange for certificates and prizes (if funding allows).
  • Announce the winners and “eat” the books.
  • We even got a shout-out on the local news.
Our Iceberg is Melting Punch

Our Iceberg is Melting Punch – my entry for our Edible Book Festival

Why I Killed My Facebook Account

Many Facebook users are in an uproar over new changes, while bigger ones are about to be unveiled. I’ve had a Facebook account since 2005. Today, I killed it. Didn’t just deactivate it, but deleted it. The whole kit-and-kaboodle. Why?

It’s Not User-Friendly
I never complained much about the constant design changes. That’s the nature of technology and the Internet. In the beginning, the reason I loved Facebook over Myspace was its clean design. No glaring graphics, no ugly text. Now Facebook looks like a flashing Las Vegas neon sign.

Personal vs. Professional
Who are my “friends”? A lot of my co-workers are both friends and Facebook friends. Professional colleagues are Facebook friends. Family members are Facebook friends. Classmates from high school are Facebook friends–but many are not “real” friends–you know, these are the people who would never talk to you in high school, but for some reason want to be your Facebook friend! I just got tired of all of the different dividing lines. What to post and to whom? I know I could create different groups/lists. But really, it’s just a hassle. For the people I really do like: my co-workers, family members, and friends – I don’t need Facebook to stay in touch.

Privacy
This is the real stinker for me. Facebook had way too many privacy settings that seemed to change every month. And you always had to “opt out.” Sharing was automatic. No thank you. And now there are creepy things like this [update: Facebook has changed the timeline to avoid outing “unfrienders” – well at least that’s one good thing!]. This is what it all comes down to: Facebook is NOT about me or my friends. It’s about my data and how advertisers can market to me.

Do I think Facebook is important to libraries. Absolutely! Again, there’s that marketing aspect. But I’ll be using a “dummy” account to manage my library’s Facebook page.

Ultimately, I decided that I don’t want to live my life on Facebook. I want to live it in real life. That’s my call. I decide when and to whom I communicate with. I control the information. Facebook does not.

If you haven’t read these articles, check them out:

Not Sharing is Caring: Facebook’s Terrible Plan to Get Us to Share Everything We Do on the Web – Slate

Is Facebook Trying to Kill Privacy – Mashable

I Deleted My Facebook Account – Maxistentialism

Updated:

Excellent post from ReadWriteWeb – The New Facebook: 3 Major Implications

Twitter 101: Pet Peeves & Rules to Follow

I’ve been tweeting now @mrlibrarydude since 2008. By no means do I consider myself an expert, but it’s something that I find enjoyable and absolutely worthwhile professionally. Through Twitter, I’ve been able to connect with a great group of librarians, and other people interested in higher ed and technology. Through it, I’ve received lots of great ideas and advice. In fact, it’s usually the first thing I check when I get into the office. Here, I have developed some rules to follow, along with a few “pet peeves.” What do you think?

  • No bio: Make the effort to write a short bio on your Twitter profile. Don’t make me guess. Who are you? What are you interested in?
  • Re-tweets: Occasional re-tweeting is completely OK. I do it! But don’t let all of your tweets be re-tweets. Try putting your own spin on a re-tweet: do you agree, disagree, have a differing point to make about what you are re-tweeting? Tell us!
  • Zero tweets: Do not start following hundreds of people without tweeting something yourself. I don’t follow people with zero tweets.
  • Professional v. Personal Twitter accounts: You will find disagreement on this. Personally, I’m not a stickler for the professional v. personal Twitter accounts. I tend to be somewhere in the range of 70% professional tweets and 30% personal tweets (e.g., weekend fun, Flickr photos, daily musings). I like some levity. Reading people’s personal tweets often brings a smile to my face. Just beware of posting something that reflects poorly on your employer if you have indicated where you work in your Twitter bio. Libraryland is a small place.
  • Foursquare check-ins: If you have a Foursquare account, please TURN OFF the automatic post-to-Twitter setting. I don’t care if you’re at home, at work, at Target. An occasional post-to-Twitter is OK—especially if you’ve discovered a new place, good food (maybe I want to know!), or it’s something library-related.
  • Extended Tweet Statuses – Yes, I know you can now write more than 140 characters. But the point with Twitter is BREVITY! If you can’t say it in 140 characters, then blog it instead.
  • Hashtag love – Not sure if your followers will understand what you are tweeting? Then include a hashtag. Make it something understandable to your audience! Although I must admit that, as a librarian, I had no idea what the #hcod hashtag first stood for when all of the HarperCollins tweets started coming across my computer 😉
  • Negativity – this is the “Debbie Downer” tweeter, or the person with NOTHING ever good to say about anyone or anything—I get it. It’s your way to vent. But I’m not interested in it and I won’t be following you.
  • Private Profiles – This does bug me. If you’re going to follow me, then why is YOUR profile private? I understand people who want to use Twitter more for personal or “fun” activities might want a private profile. But, if you’re using it for professional purposes, why not make your profile public? It’s a good way to network.
  • Live Tweeting at conferences: Proceed with caution. For this to work, the tweet should display the following qualities: needs to stand on its own—I should not need to know about any prior content. It should also provide a good idea, interesting concept, or a helpful hint.

What are some other Twitter “pet peeves” that I missed? Leave a comment!

Game On: Social Media Ideas & Prizes for Libraries

Businesses have adapted to the social media landscape by offering up prizes and promotions through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other applications. Libraries, too, have joined in the mix. Last month, I posted on the COLLIB-L and PUBLIB-L discussion lists looking for ideas that libraries are using with social media. Specifically, I wanted to know what types of promotions, contests, or prizes that libraries do for such activities as:

  • Friending the library on Facebook
  • Following the library on Twitter
  • Checking-in at the library on Foursquare (or becoming “mayor”), or similar check-in apps, etc.

What follows are suggestions and ideas from libraries (and thank you to those that responded!):

  • McCain Library at Agnes Scott College in Georgia holds regular “Tuesday Trivia” contests. Trivia questions are posted to the library’s blog, and also promoted through its Facebook page. The library director told me, “Questions are posted on Tuesdays and the first person with the correct answer wins prizes such as donated theatre tickets, coffee shop gift cards, flash drives/similar swag collected at conferences, etc.”
  • A public library in California is also thinking of doing a trivia contest. For example, a monthly trivia contest might ask patrons to search the library’s online databases for the answer, and post it to the library’s Facebook page. Winners would receive a prize, or be entered in a raffle.
  • Mudd Library at Lawrence University in Wisconsin has experimented with posing questions on its Facebook page and sending prizes via campus mail to those who answer (prizes such as carabineers, mugs, and notebooks). On Foursquare, the library runs a check-in promotion with users: anyone checking in three times at the library on Foursquare wins a mini-notebook and pen.
  • The Kansas City Public Library (another one my fave public library’s on Twitter) held a Twitter Trivia Contest relating to famous catchphrases and slogans that complimented a lecture at the library by an author who writes on the same topic. Winners received a copy of the author’s book. Also, check out their promotion/contest via Facebook and Twitter to meet LeVar Burton. Great ideas!
  • McMaster University Library in Canada attracted new followers to its Twitter account by sponsoring a contest where users tweet how they use the library. Winner received an external hard drive as a prize.
  • Provo City Library in Utah sponsored a Facebook contest relating to an author that was speaking at the library. Users were asked to post a Facebook comment about the author & why they liked the book. Winner received tickets to the author’s lecture and a collection of books.
  • As for prizes, I was contacted by In My Book, which makes bookmarks. Worth a look!

Does your library offer any promotions or specials with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, or other social media applications? What kinds of of prizes or “freebies” do you pass out? Post it to the comments section below!

Welcome!

I’m a librarian. I like to read. A lot. Go figure. Always an avid reader of professional librarian blogs, I’ve never done it myself. I’ve always thought, “I don’t have time to blog!” I tweet regularly–and lately I’ve started using services such a Twitlonger and deck.ly to extend my tweets past the maximum 140 characters. It dawned on me: if you can’t keep it short, then blog it! My job as an academic librarian has focused on instruction and reference, but I also keep up on instructional technology and social media. Topics I plan to post on include:

  • Libraries
  • Reading
  • Technology
  • Books/Publishing
  • E-books
  • Information Literacy/Library Instruction
  • Social Media
  • Library Job Advice

I started a new job in January and thought it would be a good time to think about important issues that affect librarians. I’ll plan to post 2-3 times per week. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you soon.