The year 2016 was the fourth time our library held a Peep Show, in which patrons submit literary dioramas made with Peeps. Some examples are "Mary Peepins," "The Lightening Peep", "Fear and Sugar in Las Vegas", "Off to See the Wizard of Peeps" and "James and the Giant Peep." We accept dioramas for a week or two before they are displayed in our children's department for another couple of weeks for voting. We have several different age categories for the contest. Each winner gets bragging rights and a small prize.
In past years, we have had offered programs during the submission period when people could come in to make their dioramas; during these programs, we would supply the Peeps and craft supplies. However, these programs were not well attended, so we didn't have one this year.
This program requires limited planning. We chose to have our program begin the Monday after Easter so that Peeps could be found on sale. We needed to decide how long we wanted to give everyone to make their dioramas, how long to display them for voting, and the age categories. At the end of the contest, winners receive a $5 gift certificate to Big Dipper Ice Cream, a locally owned ice cream shop where they make their own ice cream in original flavors.
Each year we start thinking about the Peep Show in February and put together a timeline. Most of the planning has to do with the marketing strategy and creating the brochure, fliers, etc. If we have a Create-a-Diorama program, we set the date and make sure the supplies we want are in the craft supply cupboard.
We had fliers and brochures out to the public two weeks before the date we started accepting the dioramas for display. The brochure explained the rules of the contest and event timeline. It also stated that we would have four age categories (7 and under, 8-12, 13-17 and 18+) and that winners would be voted for in all categories. (view examples of marketing materials under Attachments at right)
In addition to the brochures and fliers, we posted a slide on the homepage of our website, the flat-screen TV near the main service desk and the digital frames that are at every service desk. Each year we receive more and more entries. The first year we had about 10. This year we received 50 entries.
You don't need any money for this event, unless you decide to hold a program for creating dioramas. It is possible to do this event successfully without offering a program. Even though we no longer offer this program, our number of submissions for the contest are still rising.
For us, the only set-up needed is making room on top of the shelves in the children's department. This is done as the dioramas arrive. One staff member created the brochures, fliers, voting slips and voting box. These are re-used each year with minor tweaks to the information and design. A second staff member created the digital media. The children's department staff accepts the dioramas and places them in the right category for display.
We always have lots of positive feedback. This year we had folks asking about it before we even started advertising. We seem to primarily have younger patrons (ages 6-15) participate.
The dioramas that won the 2016 contest were:
- "Dr. Who" for the 18+ category
- "Harry Potter and the Deathly Peep" for the 13-17 category
- "Harry Peeper and the Sorcerer's Peep" for the 8-12 category
- "James and the Giant Peep" for the 7 and under category
This is a simple passive program that patrons will love.
About This Library
Missoula (Mont.) Public Library serves Missoula County, with a population of 100,000 spread over 2,600 square miles. About 75,000 people are in the city of Missoula or within 15 miles. There are numerous small towns throughout the rest of the county that the library serves with library branches and our Web on Wheels Bus. Missoula is known as the liberal city in Montana and is home of the University of Montana and many writers, artists and entrepreneurs. The county also has a large conservative population in the outlying areas. Missoula Public Library is the busiest in the state and has about 50 employees.