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Monday, November 12, 2012

Building the Death Brackets

Now that you have seen the stories I created for the Death Brackets, I wanted to write a little about why we did this display and how it was built.

Every fall we normally do a display of the patron's favorite authors based on the titles that were read during summer reading.  Although we do this every year and patrons look forward to it, I have to say, it was getting a bit boring for us as a staff to compile.  Each year it was the same authors, and although we would include patrons comments, after a bunch of years in a row, it was time for a change to shake things up a little.

Last year, I followed the fun Death Brackets on the web site Criminal Element.  I loved how they brought mystery literature's characters to life and placed them in direct confrontation with one and other.  I thought, "I can do that!"

The idea was to take the most popular authors among our patrons and have them battle it out for a clear winner.  We would still have the display in the fall, and although the Death Bracket and the authors included in it would be the main focus, the display itself would still be filled with a wide sampling of our most popular authors.  I saw the whole thing as an ode to our patrons and their support for us. We would still have the patrons' favorites display like always, it would just have a new look and feel.

So, way back in March, I broached the subject with John, our display guru.  He said if I got him the names he could make it happen from a visual perspective.  You can see the display as it stands this week.  I have a close up of the cage itself too [that's Gillian Flynn giving James Patterson a beat down].

John decided to make the display last over time in the building, he would unveil a bracket a week (center of the display) and put out a print bookmark of the battles as I wrote them up.  This gives the patrons a reason to come back each week.  We are only on the first day of week two, but I have already seen at least one person return to see the new bracket.

In terms of the actual stories, after I picked the initial 32 authors, I first figured out who would beat who based mostly on their circulation stats and popularity.  Then I took what I knew about the authors, their protagonists, interesting plot points, and their writing style into account and let my imagination fly.  Along the way, I ran my thoughts by numerous staff members to get new and better ideas and to hone the narrative.

This was a display made possible by many people, but with planning, it was not as hard to pull off as it may seem.  I hope you enjoyed it.  But more importantly, I hope it inspires you to do something different at your library.

You can go to the Death Brackets 2012 Archive I created to see it all in one place.

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