Our library has created a Pokémon marathon event, called a Pokéthon, based on the popular Pokémon Go  game.
The Pokéthon implements a combination of aspects from the Pokémon universe, including the original Pokémon game, Pokémon Go for mobile devices, and various tasks, crafts and learning experiences that entertain and also educate the event participant. This program is designed as a six-day, after-school event for ages 4 and up, but can be shortened or lengthened depending on your library’s preferences or availability. Events include challenges, activities and tasks that can be completed to earn Pokémon badges.
The library purchases Pokémon coins  and drops Pokémon lures  to help people in the area catch new Pokémon creatures. We have also hosted activities such as the Pokéthon Scavenger Hunt, Who’s that Pokémon?, Origami Pokémon Challenge, Pokémon Team Showcase and Hatch Party!
As the word "Pokémon" becomes more and more commonplace, libraries are scrambling to make sense of the terminology and the new record-breaking game Pokémon Go. In the game, players use a mobile device's GPS capability to locate, capture, battle and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. This app is free to download and use on both iPhone and Android devices.
The program is mainly marketed through distributed press releases, word of mouth, small fliers, online announcements and use of social media. (View a sample sign under Attachments at right.) Library staff also wore "Ask me about Pokéthon!" buttons with Pokémon characters (view a sample librarian badge under Attachments at right). We also reached out to various Pokémon clubs, online groups and local community groups. Targeting existing groups with specific interest in Pokémon will help encourage event participation.
The budget for this program can be varied due to its flexible nature, ranging from $50 to $500. To purchase Pokémon Go lures, the library will need a device with the Pokémon Go app installed. A debit or credit card can be used to purchase the in-game Pokémon coins, which are then used to purchase the lures. We purchased $50 in lures, which lasted throughout the week with lure drops every 30 minutes.
This program is designed to have a low impact on the library's daily activities. A minimum of one dedicated event coordinator is recommended to handle the daily crafts, tasks and challenges. Library staff wore Each day users who complete the assigned activities will receive Pokémon Gym badges , which represent the completion of the challenge. Badges are awarded in Pokémon training, with a total of eight different badges needed to complete the series. We created these badges with Pokémon game graphics, printed and made in to buttons. If a participant collects all eight badges, they received a certificate designating them an “Official Pokéthon Master." (View sample badge graphics and a Pokémon master certificate under Attachments at right.)
Our events were held daily from 3 to 7 p.m., with one Pokémon-themed activity each day along with lures dropped every 30 minutes. Our daily events schedule was as follows. (View scavenger hunt guides, Who's that Pokémon graphics, origami instructions, Pokémon team graphics, coloring pages and more resources under Attachments at right.)
Pokéthon Scavenger Hunt (Earn 2 Badges)
A scavenger hunt to find Pokémon throughout the library. Participants can earn Boulder Badge #1 and Cascade Badge #2.
Who’s that Pokémon?
Participants play a quiz game entitled Name that Pokémon, or Color that Creature to earn Thunder Badge #3.
Origami Pokémon Challenge
Create an origami Pokémon to earn Rainbow Badge #4.
Pokémon Team Showcase
Bring, Draw, or Color Your Pokémon Team fan art to earn Soul Badge #5. Art will be displayed in the library!
Pokéthon Scavenger Hunt (Earn 2 Badges)
Scavenger hunt to earn Marsh Badge #6 and Volcano Badge #7.
Walk 2 km on the Library Park Path and earn the #8 Earth Badge.
Attendance varied from 28 to 103 per day. Roughly 43 percent of the weekly attendees were adults, and the other 57 percent were children/youth (View images of program participants under Photo Slideshow at right). Feedback, which was collected through surveys and interviews, was positive.
We are working with youth to identify major outcomes and ongoing methods of evaluation. However, we are already seeing mental shifts among participants. Youth and adults alike, who feared they wouldn’t be welcome in the library, or who had previously visited but had never spoken to staff, are now regularly accessing library resources. Our other departments, such as children’s, genealogy, and the Teaching Resource Center, have seen more youth and adults accessing their resources, too. We have seen an increase in adults accessing our Career Resources Center as well.
Having a staff member who is an active Pokémon Go player can be a great help because they are already familiar with the terminology and concepts of the game.
Participants are more willing to come back for daily events because they feel more comfortable interacting with a fellow player rather than someone who may be unfamiliar with concepts within the game.
About This Library
For many years the mission of the Obion County Public Library has been to enrich the lives of the citizens of Obion County by providing them with a wide range of meaningful library materials and by offering helpful programs designed to meet the needs of specific groups of patrons. We continue our commitment, not only to continue in this mission, but also to make our library an increasingly significant and relevant part of the lives of our patrons.
The new Obion County Public Library Facility was opened on Nov. 16, 2003. The facility has a 30,000-square-foot building on approximately four acres of land, and includes large parking and outdoor reading areas. The library catalog contains over 70,000 books, video and audio materials (110,000 maximum capacity) and is the third-largest public collection in West Tennessee (after Jackson and Memphis).