Brash Jobs: Virtual Programs, Package Crafts, and The Return of the Drive-In Movie

Hi Friends!

I hope everyone had an excellent Easter. This week, I wanted to touch on some of the programs my library system has been to help the community.

Virtual Programming

Our library has really gone elbows-deep into putting programs on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Some of our weekly/bi-weekly programs include:

  • Craft videos – cool stuff you can make with everyday household items. Separate videos for kids, teens and adults, some of which are hosted by yours truly!
  • Story Time videos – available in English story time, baby story time, and bilingual English/Spanish story time.
  • Puppet Show videos – watch as we adapt books into puppet shows that are sure to entertain.
  • Random videos – sometimes, we just do things to make people laugh or celebrate a holiday. Sometimes, we just film the unboxing of new books and set it to music. One we started trying was “Celebrity Story Time”, where I read books while doing celebrity/character impressions.

To-go Crafts

Our prepackaged bags of craft supplies, or “crafts 2GO”, are great little packages you can pick up in-store or via curbside for kids. Open it up, following the instructions, and you have (whatever the craft of the month is)!

Special Events

  • We’re working to get more Author Q & A sessions and author talks at our book clubs, where we talk with authors about writing and cool stuff.
  • Contests that help bring some normalcy. For example, our annual comic book convention was canceled due to COVID-19, but the largest event of the day – the costume contest – was held online this year to the spirit of the event alive.
  • Partnerships with other departments like Parks and Recreation and the Traffic Department

Drive-In Movies

Some time last year, our teen librarians had discussed the idea of drive-in movies. It was poked with holes – what about the licensing cost? What about the logistics of getting the equipment? Will we have the numbers to justify it? It fell into file 13 and was never heard from again…until the pandemic. When they brought it back up over the summer, it became more appealing. When we learned our Parks and Rec department had a giant inflatable screen and licensing costs had dropped, it became more appealing.

We use an inflatable screen we’ve borrowed from our Parks and Rec Department. It’s about 20 feet tall.

What’s the deal with licensing, you ask? For those who aren’t familiar, libraries pay licensing fees in order to show movies at the library. Normally, a yearly license will cover most movies inside the property, but it doesn’t cover outdoor events (like drive-in movies) or electronic distribution (like streaming events or watch parties). To have an outdoor event, you’d need to pay an additional fee. HOWEVER, some companies understand the importance of community activities while staying safe and have temporarily waived the fees for outdoor events! Ours was originally meant to expire on January 1st, but was extended to June…and extended again to the rest of the year. That means we can host drive-in movies with spending any extra money!

Of course, our drive-in events are socially distanced and pandemic-friendly. We host it in our parking lot and space cars out every other space.

Everybody is at least one spot away. 34 spaces total!

We use an FM transmitter so people can listen to the movie through their car’s radio, just like an old-timey drive in movie! We have a range of about 100 feet, with minimum interference. We’re watching you, Tejano radio station that tries to crackle in.

Our setup is pretty impressive, if I don’t say so myself. We use a rear-facing projector that lights up the movie from behind so all of our movie gear isn’t in the way. Along with a blu-ray player and a laptop, we use an audio splitter to send the audio to the FM transmitter, which we put on top of a ladder for maximum signal.

How it looks from the back when working the movie.

Traffic cones? We borrow them from the roads department.

Door prizes at the end of the movie? Often donated by local businesses.

Attendees? We’ve been hosting these for about 6 months and had over 500 people attend.

In a time when most other programs and activities have been impossible to do safely, it’s nice to know we can do this for communities.

Biggest challenge

If I had to sum up what makes me the most frustrated about doing these movies…it’s the darn weather. About half our movies have been postponed at least once or twice because the weather was 50% chance of rain. Our last movie, it was sunny right up to 5pm, then rained at 5:03pm. SO glad I postponed that one.

What have YOU been doing at your library? Tell me!

Want to know more about hosting a drive-in event at your library? Ask me!

Coming up: TLA is online this year. What will happen? Stay tuned.

 

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

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