Local literature lovers are being handcuffed, flying planes, shooting arrows, spraying Silly String and skateboarding – all while balancing books on their heads – as part of a whimsical online effort to promote Whatcom County Library System as a modern, tech-savvy place.
It’s like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or the 22 Pushup Challenge for veterans’ mental health, said Sherri Huleatt, a digital marketing strategist for RedRokk, the Bellingham marketing firm that developed the library’s #BookBrainChallenge.
Film yourself balancing a book on your head and post the video to Facebook with the hashtags #BookBrainChallenge and #wclsLibraries.
“They’re just so creative and fun,” Huleatt said. “It’s also good for all ages. We wanted it to be something that kids could do.”
The rules are simple, said Lizz Roberts, the county libraries’ community relations coordinator: Film yourself balancing a book on your head and post the video to Facebook with the hashtags #BookBrainChallenge and #wclsLibraries. Make your post public and “allow followers” under your privacy settings. Not on social media? Watch the videos on YouTube at wclsLibraries, which is also the name of the libraries’ Facebook page.
Ferndale Mayor Jon Mutchler and Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis have taken the challenge. So has Village Books owner Chuck Robinson. Library Executive Director Christine Perkins has a video in which she blows bubbles with a book on her head and one in which she climbs aboard the Bookmobile. Cindy Leffel, the Blaine Library’s youth focus librarian, got “arrested” and placed in a patrol car by Jake Ferrer, Blaine police reserve officer coordinator – both while sporting books atop their noggins. Roberts said Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws has promised a video.
(A library card is) the most important school supply item that you can have.
Lizz Roberts, community relations coordinator for the Whatcom County Library System
“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said.
#BookBrainChallenge began in September as students returned to school, and it’s part of the American Library Association’s national Library Card Sign-up Month.
Whatcom County libraries include all branches outside Bellingham, but through the One Card program, WCLS card holders can borrow from any public or academic library in Whatcom County, including Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College.
“(A library card is) the most important school supply item that you can have,” Roberts said. “We think it’s important to get kids their own library card. There’s that pride. It’s a badge of honor.”
Roberts said RedRokk has a $75,000 one-year contract to promote the library in various online ways. Since the promotional effort started in March, use of Overdrive e-books is up 14 percent, Freegal music downloads are up 56 percent, Zinio online magazine use is up 50 percent and Mango online language sessions are up 44 percent.
It takes about two minutes online to get library access and start using digital services, she said.
“We were getting just a few (online library card applications) a month before, and now it’s over 100 a month,” Roberts said. “It’s pretty freaking amazing.”