The goal of this one-month program was to expose our patrons to unfamiliar books and authors. For the month of February, we displayed wrapped books at the entrance of the library with brief labels attached to each one. The labels included the first sentence of the book, facts and who the typical reader would be.
After patrons were done reading the books, they filled out a "rate your date" card that asked whether they enjoyed it. The cards included these ratings: "true love," "just friends" and "never again." The forms were entered into a drawing to win two book prize baskets containing food and books. Blind Date with a Book was so successful that we ran out of covered books and scrambled to add more to the collection.
One week before the program, I started selecting books from the library’s complete collection, including nonfiction, fiction, western and biographies. Then I wrapped the books and prepared a label for each one. The labels listed the first sentence of the book, a pseudo-advertisement asking for specific readers and an accolade. For example, one of the labels mentioned the book was made into a movie starring Will Smith.
We showcased the books at the entrance of the library using a colorful poster. We advertised the contest on our website and Facebook page. The Missouri Valley Times also covered  the program.
We spent $50 on the two prize baskets. One basket had a tea theme and the other had a wine theme; each included a book that related to the theme. For next year’s program, we would like to spend at least twice as much on prizes to make the contest more attractive.
Two staff members set up the book display before the library opened. The only challenge was keeping enough books ready to be checked out.
The program was a success. Patrons checked out 86 books, and the two winners were featured  in the Missouri Valley Times. According to the entries, most patrons were interested in the books they selected. We will reintroduce the program next year.
Selecting books is important. Take some time to choose quality reading material. You must also offer prizes, in my opinion.
About This Library
Missouri Valley Public Library  serves a community of about 3,500. We are close to Omaha, Neb., and some of our residents commute daily for work. Our population is mostly Caucasian. We are funded by the city, but we also have funds available from a wealthy patron’s bequest.