It would be hard to miss the building excitement this summer as readers of all ages anticipate the release of the next – and last – book in J.K. Rowling’s series of books about the young wizard Harry Potter: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Couple that with a new Potter movie coming to movie theatres as well, and it’s no wonder that "Pottermania" has reached an all-time high.
Bookstores and movie theatres are clearly hoping to see record business from these releases, but local libraries are also offering ways for their patrons to celebrate the new book and movie. There are summer reading programs that include Harry Potter themed activities, and even special library or librarian blogs dedicated to Harry Potter (Enjoy the Magic of Harry Potter @ the Norwalk Public Library and Bloggin About Harry Potter from the Louisville Free Library).
ILoveLibraries.org spoke with Kathleen T. Horning, past president of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), about the Harry Potter phenomenon and its effect on libraries. “Libraries have seen an overall rise in circulation, particularly in the area of fantasy books for children and teens,” says Horning. In addition, she says, “The long waiting period between installments has given librarians the perfect opportunity to suggest other good books for children to read in the meantime. Click here for recommendations from the experts on other books you and your young Potter fans might like.
Featured below are some examples of programs offered by just a few libraries around the country. Check with your local library to learn about Potter programming in your neighborhood.
Note: Response to ILoveLibraries.org's original story about Harry Potter themed library events was so great that we've continued to collect links to individual programs that have taken place or will take place in the coming weeks. Click on "Read More" below to read more about the programs libraries have provided or will provide in the coming weeks. Items added after the original release of this article are marked with a red "NEW!" If you want to share your library's events, visit the ILoveLibraries.org "Libraries in the News" blog and add your event to the comments.
Harry - Banned!
The Knight Bus
The Famed Knight Bus, which speeds through the world at night and picks up needy wizards and witches in Rowling’s books, is touring libraries across the United States. Scholastic Books has sponsored an actual triple-decker purple Knight Bus and sent it around the country, stopping in dozens of cities’ public libraries. Libraries lucky enough to be granted a visit are having parties and celebrations in honor of this magical tour. You can visit the Scholastic Knight Bus Tour site to learn about the tour, what libraries have been doing, and whether the Knight Bus is stopping in your town.
Days of Magic
Many libraries are drawing out their festivities over several events. Horning says that “youth services librarians [can] use their creativity and their own knowledge of the communities they serve to enlist local experts to join the celebration.” With more than a week separating the release of the new movie and the new book, there’s time for lots of wizard-worthy public programming.
- The St. Joseph County Library in South Bend, IN, is planning seven days of exciting activities. Among other activities, “Wizard Crafts” will be available in the library’s meeting room all week, and previous Harry Potter movies will be screened every day.
Some libraries are throwing fabulous parties late at night to release the first copies of the new book at midnight.
- The Newton Public Library in Newton, IA is opening its doors at 11:30pm. Patrons on the waiting list can be among the first to check a copy out, but the library is also partnering with a local bookstore to sell copies right there at the party. Everyone is encouraged to come dressed as their favorite characters from the books.
The fun doesn’t end when readers take home the new book. Horning suggests that families can do more at home, and encourages them “to read aloud, or to listen together to the audio-book versions of the series, and to discuss the stories in depth.” Many libraries are hosting read-a-thons for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—so take your whole family to the library.
- The Fayetteville Public Library in Fayetteville, AR will begin reading from the new book at a party the very morning it is released.
However you celebrate the literary event of the summer, be sure to make your public library a part of the experience. As Horning says, "There really is no other contemporary author—for children or adults—who commands the same kind of anticipation [as J.K. Rowling]. And don't expect there to be in our lifetime. We have to enjoy it while we can."
Now that the series is coming to an end, how will you find your next enthralling adventure on the page? Kathleen T. Horning claims that “the series appeals to those who like fantasy, folklore, mystery, adventure, horror, romance, realism, sports, humor, tear-jerkers, animal stories, school stories, and, of course, the classic orphan motif in children's literature. Whenever I'm asked to recommend a book like Harry Potter, I always have to ask, ‘What is it that you like about the books? The magic? The humor? The quidditch? The school setting?’”