Tweens (10-12)

Harry Potter Book Night

The Lewis J. Ort Library collaborated with the Frostburg State University Children’s Literature Center (CLC) to host Harry Potter book night in the Ort Library for regional middle school students and their parents.

Advanced Planning

The Ort Library’s goal was to provide a magical night for area middle school children and their parents, which would give them a positive impression of an academic library and its staff.

Frostburg State University hosted Harry Potter book night on Feb. 4, 2016. The event was registered with Bloomsbury Publishing, the global coordinator. Planning meetings began in December 2015 between the library director and faculty/graduate assistants of the CLC. Subsequent meetings in January expanded to include participating library staff, students in the education program and community participants.


Invitation letters were mailed to regional middle schools, and posters were distributed on campus and in the community. Announcements were shared via email and posted on CLC's Facebook. A community newspaper, The Cumberland Times-News, advertised the program, and a reporter attended and photographed the event. (View marketing materials under Attachments at right.)


The bulk of the budget was spent on providing customized refreshments prepared by Chartwells Food Service for the expected 300 participants. Custom food products included a popcorn bar, Hogwarts house krispies, chocolate-covered pretzel wands, gummy worms/jelly slugs and witch hat cookies. Beverages included "butter beer" mulled apple cider and a "Polyjuice Potion." A proposed cold vegetable platter and dip were dropped from the menu to reduce the cost.

Day-of-event Activity

Set-up for this program was quite complex since it involved so many components and areas of activities. Three floors of the library building were used for the event. The library director prepared and distributed floor plans in advance, and furniture was set up the morning of the event. A light crew set up directional lighting both outside and inside the building. A coat check area was designated at the staffed circulation desk, and two library staff members monitored staircases: one for walking to the fifth floor and the other for going down to second. A coloring book area was staffed next to the library’s juvenile collection for young children. (View floor plan under Attachments at right.)

Nine library staff and 30 CLC faculty/students participated in the event.

After entering the building, children were sorted into "houses" and given instructions. Each child had a paper badge or sticker attached to their shirt or jacket that designated their house. Guests then selected a wand and stopped at the photo booth before going off to class. Depending on their assigned house, they were directed to two of the following classes: potions, divinations, charms, quidditch or book reading. 

  • A faculty member of education professions taught the potions class, where she demonstrated how to make “elephant toothpaste.” (View the house schedules and potions class examples under Attachments at right.)
  • A media specialist from Allegany County taught the divination class, which covered how to interpret tea leaves that predicted the future.
  • In the charms class, a volunteer magician demonstrated tricks.
  • A faculty member from the sociology department and many graduate assistants taught quidditch, where students learned fundamental skills like throwing and catching balls, catching hoolah hoops, pitching a ball into a net, etc. 

Throughout the event, wandering wizards visited the different areas and assigned extra points to children for good behavior or deducted points if they violated the posted code of ethics. A few of the roaming wizards were library staff wearing academic gowns with hats and scarves. Faculty, graduate assistant and student volunteers also wore embellished academic gowns. One office in the library organizes commencement ceremonies and stores an assortment of academic gowns in various sizes that were available to organizers that evening. In addition to the roaming wizards, each house had a designated head of house who led students around the library. They were dressed in relevant house colors:

  • Gryffindor: maroon and gold
  • Slytherin: green and silver
  • Ravenclaw: blue and bronze
  • Hufflepuff: yellow and black

After class, everyone met back together to see who had won the House Cup. This year it went to Hufflepuff. 

All attendees were encouraged to wear their favorite wizarding outfit in order to compete in a costume contest. At the end of the evening prizes were awarded to an adult and child for the best costume. Two library staff members channeled participants through the security exit gate at the end of the evening’s activities. Library housekeepers cleaned up immediately after the event.

Program Execution

Planned activities proceeded very smoothly from check-in at 6:30 p.m. until the awarding of prizes at 8:15 p.m. The weather also cooperated for the event. Outside luminaries guided participants from the public library parking lot to the library building and inside lights highlighted stations and classes.

Approximately 200 children and 150 to 200 adults participated in Harry Potter Book Night at Frostburg State University. Comments from participants were very positive. Participants also commented that attendance would have been greater with increased publicity.

Adult participants expressed thanks, and the children were visibly enchanted with all the activities.

After the event, a meeting was held to collect suggestions for subsequent programs. There were some areas like the photo booth where bottlenecks occurred; other areas like the coloring book and coat check stations were not utilized. Microphones also would have been helpful for some speakers.


My only advice is to start planning early.

Supporting Materials

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