This past February, Booth Library on the campus of Eastern Illinois University held its first Blind Date with a Book. It was so popular that we decided to bring it back this fall and put a spooky twist on it. Blind Date with a Book: Love at First Bite ran throughout October. Wrapped books were displayed on a table in the main hallway, and each book was decorated and contained hints on the front to entice the reader to pick it up.
Library staff worked hard to keep the table stocked, as the books disappeared quickly. Books were taken from the shelves and sent to the Circulation Department so that temporary location information could be added to the catalog. Then the wrapping began. Each book was given a number on a spreadsheet so we could keep track of which book was which. This number was written in the top right corner of the wrapped book, and the bottom left corner contained the barcode, which was color-copied and cut out to make checkout a breeze. The rest of the wrapped book cover was filled with ghost stamps, spider drawings, and three or four hints about the book, such as the genre, a specific trope, etc.
Patrons who checked out books had the option to “Rate Your Date” by completing a short survey, where they shared if they found true love with their chosen book, or if they should just stay friends. Sixty-nine percent of participants who filled out the survey reported that they had found true love on their date. After they read their book, 77 percent said the book they chose was awesome!
One participant said, “I love the Blind Date with a Book program! It’s interesting to pick up a book based on specific content rather than the art or the synopsis.” Another found a book they loved well before unwrapping it: “They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera. “I read this book about a year ago and it was the book that made me fall in love with reading again! I was super excited to be able to read the story of Mateo and Rufus one more time."
Students also expressed their love for this event, saying, “It was so quick and fun to read, and equally suspenseful. Side note: I love when the library does the Blind Date with a Book, so thank you guys for taking the time to set it up.” Another said, “I love Blind Date with a Book! This time around I had the joy of unwrapping a 5-6 grade level book, but after being in graduate school it was a nice brain break.” Getting straight to the point, one student said, “My blind dates never disappoint.”
Out of 145 books pulled for this Halloween version of Blind Date with a Book, 120 were checked out, and 22 items were checked out twice! The wide variety of books flew off the display daily, and we’ve received nothing but positive feedback. We’ll be continuing this event in February with Valentine’s Day-themed version of this program.
Today's guest blog post is by Maddi Walton, Creative Writing Student Intern, at Booth Library, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL