Looking for a fun school outreach opportunity that promotes your library while allowing students to express their creativity? Try a bookmark contest!
My former employer, the County of Los Angeles Public Library, has held a highly successful bookmark contest for many years. I decided to replicate it at my library for the first time this year. Youth in grades kindergarten through 12th were invited to submit an original bookmark design about reading and/or libraries. Entries were judged on creativity, neatness, and message. Two winners were chosen from four categories (K – 2nd, 3rd – 5th, 6th- 8th, and high school.) The winners had their bookmarks printed for public distribution. Our two judges were employees in our library’s circulation department with backgrounds in art and graphic design.
I sent the entry form as an email blast to area teachers and principals, along with promoting the contest in-house and on Facebook, Twitter, and the library blog. For our first year, we had 97 entries – I was pleased! A local school took pictures of their students designing their entries and posted them on the school’s own Facebook and Twitter pages.
Our library’s Foundation and Friends generously granted $500 to fund the contest. Our library’s graphics guru scanned the winning artwork, and added a colorful border. To save on printing costs, we printed the two winners from each category back to back on one bookmark. For approximately $440, PS Print (an online printing company) printed 2500 copies of each of the four bookmarks.
The remaining money in the budget was used for engraved medals for the winners purchased through Oriental Trading company. Considering the low price of $4 per medal, the quality was surprisingly high.
We held a reception for the winners and their families the first Sunday in December. I created a Powerpoint with the winner’s artwork, and projected it on the big screen in our meeting room. Each student received 200 copies of their bookmark – just in time to include in holiday cards! The students and their parents were thrilled to see their designs as actual bookmarks. One student was even accompanied by her teacher.
The finished bookmarks are now available at our public service desks. They are quite eye-catching and have proved very popular giveaways with kids and adults alike. I will also take them to future school and community outreach events. With this kind of promotion, I anticpate that participation in next year’s contest will be even greater.
The winning bookmarks can be seen on our Facebook page. If you are interested in our entry form, email me at sbaier at santaclaraca dot gov.
Note: My library and I do not receive any kind of compensation from the companies mentioned in this post.