As a fan of college basketball, I wait excitedly for the NCAA tournament to begin every March. Trying to predict the winners, upsets and Cinderella stories is a challenge and great fun. So next year March “bracketology” is going to be reinvented as a showdown between books.
My vision for this program is as a drop-in, do-it-yourself type; the directions are fairly easy to describe and then a handout would be distributed. Instructions would also be included for reference, for those patrons unfamiliar with the bracket procedure but also want to participate.
This would be done as patrons came in and inquired about the brackets. The books chosen would be from all areas of the library with most age groups and collections represented. For younger patrons, parents or siblings could help with the bracket. Since it is a drop-in, take home program, there would not be any time commitment in the library, other than relaying instructions by the staff. The program itself would continue for about four weeks, and if successful would be held every March.
Budget demands would be low. Printer ink and paper are the only needs for running the program. It would be necessary to have funds for prizes for the winners in each age group. The prizes, of course, would follow the theme of the program, and be books. Staff time would be more demanding, but only in the development of the brackets and devising the points awarded for wins/losses and the “team” matchups. After the first year it would just be a matter of choosing books; the point structure would already be determined.
Since all ages would be included, many parts of the collection would be included as well. There may be a face-off between The Hunger Games and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I would like to include adult books as well, so all patrons could participate, so it may not technically be a “Children’s Program” but kids would definitely be the ones targeted to join the game.
March Madness-Novel Edition would start the first or second week of March, to coincide with the selection process of the basketball teams invited to play. Perhaps a book selection ceremony could also be incorporated into the program. Thirty-two books would be selected with a wall sized bracket put up to track the matchups and winners. Handouts with the brackets would be available a few days ahead; I don’t want to give patrons too much lead time to lose the papers or forget! The first week there would be sixteen “games” and patrons would vote for each of them. I would need sixteen boxes or jars for the votes to go into. At the end of the week the votes are counted and winners from each pairing would move on in the bracket to the Sweet Sixteen, just like the NCAA. The second week, the same thing, only now with eight “games” on which to vote. The Elite Eight would face off the third week; the Final Four the fourth. Shortly after those winners are determined, the final Championship game would be played. Voting for this would be open for only a couple days, to try and keep excitement and anticipation high.
I would break all the entries into age groups; preschool through 4th grade, 5th grade through 8th, high school, and adults. Again, focus would be placed on encouraging young patrons to participate, and perhaps have two or three winners for the younger age groups. The brackets are scored by a predetermined point scale, and highest point score wins. Books would be the prizes-either new releases, classics or both and everyone would be encouraged to get reading for next year’s tournament.
Our library lives in a sporty community, and I think patrons would enjoy this type of program. I like it because it encourages kids to read books throughout the year so they’ll be ready to vote, and hopefully be invested emotionally in the outcome of the games. But it also allows those who haven’t read many of the books to participate, because just like the real NCAA bracket, much of it is a guessing game! I would like to see excitement for March Madness to evolve to where patrons even pick the original 32 books that are selected.