National Libraries Day – Our Book Bingo Launch


It’s great when you get inspiration from the blogosphere. I know a number of you have been using bingo cards to set reading challenges- that got me thinking. Yesterday was National Libraries Day and I volunteer at my local community library which stopped being funded by the Isle Of Wight Council and was taken over by the Shanklin Town Council, one paid member of staff and a team of volunteers. Fund raising in circumstances like these is important. So with the seeds of an idea sown I visited one of those bingo card generating sites in an attempt to devise something that will raise funds for the library and perhaps more importantly – get library users talking about and excited about books.

I put in about 50 categories which will get people using various sections of the library, selecting books off their bookshelves or maybe supporting their local charity shops. The randomly generated cards chose 24 of these. I didn’t want to be too specific because I didn’t want to put the general reader off (24 books is quite a challenge!) but thought it would be fun to put in a few that might require the odd bit of research. I included some that will get people recommending and talking about what they’ve read and we’re following the system set up with the children’s summer reading challenge where the children bring in the books they’ve read and talk about them with the library staff before they get their reward. When you’ve proved you’ve read the book then you get a sticker to cover up your square (we’ve gone for an attractive, sparkly balloon design!)

To turn it into a fund-raiser we’re charging £3 a card with a small prize for everyone who completes a line and a six month deadline for the Full House. The fairest way to do it, after much deliberation, is to have a draw from those who manage to complete the whole card after the closing date. Fund-raising wise, it doesn’t matter if people do fall by the wayside (although I’m sure everybody will be able to do at least a line) because you get the money upfront at the beginning.

We started the volunteers off a few days earlier at a “do” and they are chomping at the bit. I’ve already talked more about books than I would do normally. For National Libraries Day we had a launch of our “Friends Of Shanklin Community Library Book Bingo” and invited the High Sheriff of the Island and our town mayor. The local press and radio were also in attendance and it was a radio item on the hourly news bulletins throughout the day (even got to hear myself interviewed on the radio). The response has been incredibly enthusiastic and because it’s running for six months and there’s not a race for the finishing line then we can get people enrolled over the next few weeks or even months. And all because I saw something on WordPress…..


“Playing” Book Bingo for the press

I’ve read two books since the volunteers started off and I’ve got my first two stickers. I’ve covered up The first in the series for “Death In Profile” by Guy Fraser-Sampson (the first in the Hampstead Murders series) and by an author whose name begins with a vowel for Vaughn Entwistle and his “Angel Of Highgate”. Both of these books will be reviewed on here soon. I’ll be giving you a monthly update on how things are going. It will take me a while to get the Full House – I’ve got quite a few I’ll need to borrow from the library shelves on my card and I’m already grappling with a significant pile with review deadlines – so I better get on with reading…………………..


12 thoughts on “National Libraries Day – Our Book Bingo Launch

    1. I hope so too. Also, I want to get people talking about books. Very few of the users ever say anything about the books they’re bringing back (and we are one of the few libraries on the island that have real people at the counter taking books off you rather than the drop-them-down-the-chute self service jobs) and that always feels a little odd to me. I want to get readers talking to readers, volunteers to readers, volunteers to volunteers to make the books central to the library experience. Not asking for much am I?!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Kay Carter

    This is a brilliant. At work there are a few of us, five to be exact, we pass books round the office, Ali reads anything and because she doesn’t have a TV, she gets through, on average, 3 books a week. Val and I love our crime and Yvonne and Sue are into bodice ripping romance. We all chat about what we read and have got a couple of the others reading. As long as I have a book, I’m a happy girl. I feel sorry for people that don’t read, they miss out on so much, not just entertainment, you can learn from novels too. I believe libraries are an essential part of any community, not just for borrowing books. Good luck with fundraiser Phil, it deserves to work for being an innovative idea.


  2. Monika

    Hi Phil et all
    Good luck with your volunteering and fund raising initiative! Hope you are all ok in Isle of Wight (must check the spelling) in this frightful weather. I just saw the news and weather. Here plenty of rain and a drop of temperature.



    1. Thanks Monika! The wind has been gale force for the last 24 hours. Luckily all it has done is blow the bird table around the garden, but there has been much bashing and crashing! It is due to drop soon. Hopefully it will not be coming your way!!


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