The goal of the Silly Sidewalk Obstacle Course is to provide a sense of liberation and fun while emphasizing the importance of wellness during these unprecedented COVID-19 times.
Upon completion of the course, patrons can enter the library and salute the librarians to be entered in a raffle for a silly prize. Our obstacle course has proven to be popular among all age groups in the community.
Due to the pandemic, all library programs are either canceled, postponed or held virtually. Virtual programming and curbside materials distribution have been successful, but patrons have expressed how much they missed the in-person interactions and brick-and-mortar library experiences. The library staff put their creative minds to the task of finding a solution to combat the social isolation our patrons are experiencing.
The consensus was to create self-directed outdoor programs. Marli Lopez, our reference librarian, designed a 126-foot course outside the library consisting of bunny hops, singing and skipping.
The course is laid out using duct tape rather than sidewalk chalk because of rain and epic Florida thunderstorms. The duct tape is surviving both the weather and the wear and tear of many happy feet. To this day, the course looks fresh.
The feedback on social media is overwhelmingly positive. A library from Indiana contacted us via Facebook Messenger for advice on creating an obstacle course for their library. Let’s Move in Libraries also shared our original Facebook promotional video to their Facebook  page.
No budget. The course was designed using supplies already on hand and repurposed materials, such as a repurposed 2019 summer reading yard sign. Duct tape is a must-have, and most libraries probably have a lot on hand already.
At the beginning of each day, library staff places signage next to the sidewalk encouraging patrons to complete the course.
Patrons are making special trips to the Tavares Public Library just for the sidewalk course. It's bringing much happiness to our little town, and we have been getting some great feedback.
We track the number of participants who enter the raffle upon completion of the course so we have a rough estimate of how many people have interacted with it.
We have found that off-brand duct tape does not work as well as Duck Tape brand tape on city sidewalks; the adhesive does not adhere to the sidewalk as well.
Making letters is not as simple as one would think, and scissors gum up and become unusable after only a few snips, so it’s better to tear the tape by hand or use a box cutter.
We also learned that ants are very curious. They were investigating the tape and had to constantly be brushed out of the way while creating the course.
About This Library
The city of Tavares is the county seat of Lake County, Fla., and is located in the central portion of the state, roughly 45 minutes northwest of Orlando. Historically, this county has been mainly agricultural, growing citrus and vegetables. Although not the largest Lake County city, Tavares is centrally located and has a growing population of 15,000. The City of Tavares Public Library is a participating member library of the Lake County Library System. Located in downtown Tavares, the library neighbors the Lake County administrative buildings and serves hundreds of county employees in addition to the city’s service area of 15,000. The Tavares Public Library has 10, 000 library cardholders. During 2018-2019, the library offered 398 library programs with an attendance rate of 12,527. Circulation for 2018-2019 was 10,994. The Tavares Public Library is staffed with 7.5 employees.