Legislative Libraries Celebrations of National Library Week


National Library Week was April 8–14 , 2012.  Legislative Libraries and librarians participated in the annual celebration with educational activities during the week, both for fun and to connect with legislators and other legislative staff.  Below, librarians from several state share their ideas for celebrating the work of legislative libraries and librarians.


From Molly Otto, Manager of Library Services, Colorado Joint Legislative Library

Usually two different trivia questions are e-mailed daily Monday through Thursday. One questions is sent to the Policy and Research staff and the other question is sent to Legal Services staff.

Questions are sent to each office at alternate times of the day, i.e. the Policy and Research staff may get two questions on two mornings; the other two on two afternoons; and Legal Services staff their questions at the opposite times. The first staff member that e-mails the correct answer to the library staff, is the winner for that day for that office. For each day there are two winners, so at the end of the day on Thursday, there are eight winners, four staff from Policy & Research and four Legal Services staff. These eight winners are the "finalists", and are e-mailed one question on Friday. The first person to e-mail the correct answer is the grand prize winner. The daily winners (the eight finalists) are awarded inexpensive (think Dollar store) prizes each day, and the Grand Prize winner is awarded a prize, which is more substantial.(gift certificate; dining coupon, etc.)

The trivia questions come from a variety of sources, including LexisNexis; the newspaper, etc. I keep an eye out for sources throughout the year.

We usually have an open house on Thursday of National Library Week.


From Jennifer Bernier, Assistant Librarian, Legislative Library, Connecticut

We've also held contests...I guess it was my public library (children's room) background that was the inspiration:

  • The book worms (as described below)
  • Guess the number of letters (Alphabits) in a jar,
  • Search-a-word for all (187) legislators last names,
  • Search-a-word for some common legislative glossary terms, etc. 
  • Crossword puzzle of common CT landmarks

We've also done a number of other "how many xxx in the jar contests", ex.: different size jelly beans. The best is a jar filled with jelly beans and gummy worms, but guess how many beans OR book worms are in the jar... We then would put out the jelly beans (a little at a time so they didn't get stale) for people to snack on during the next week.

Usually we've require people to come to the library to somehow participate (get the search-a-word, etc.). Very often we'd get at least a few people in that would mention they'd never been "up" to the 5th floor before.

We have had prizes and have tried to make them something Connecticut related. There used to be (maybe there still is) a "made in Connecticut" store in downtown Hartford.


From Kristen Ford, Legislative Librarian, Legislative Services Office, Idaho

It’s time to dust off past activities and start brainstorming new ones to celebrate National Library Week for 2012. I know that I especially like to incorporate new ideas every year, and it got me to thinking that it would be great if we could share ideas and get those creative juices flowing. I’ll get the ball started by throwing out some activities I’ve done here in Idaho in recent years:

1) I took a couple of recent legislative news articles and made them into Mad Libs by removing words.

2) I had an essay contest in which I asked people to write about a favorite library or librarian memory. This resulted in some GREAT stories!

3) Trivia contests

4) I created a Word Find in which people first had to fill in a word from an Idaho statute, then rearrange those words to make a sentence. I can provide a copy of this or maybe Jeanne can post it.

5) I asked staff members for their favorite books and then had a contest where you had to try and guess which books went with which people.

6) Last year, I held a “Bananagrams” tournament which was popular. This is a really fun game where you create words with Scrabble-like letters. Everyone loves this game. (Watch out for crosswordies as they will try to convince you to accept words that are only known in crossword puzzle dictionaries, and decide in advance if you are going to accept those.)

7) Think of an obscure skill and hold a contest. I held a juggling contest last year. Most people can’t juggle but it was so interesting to find that one staff person was a really expert juggler! And it was entertaining to watch everybody else TRY to juggle. J

8) I taped a photo of me holding my hand out on the wall, and then we blindfolded people, spun them and had them try to tape a paper book onto my photo’s hand, in the style of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

9) Guessing games. I took a jar of gummy worms and had people guess how many “Bookworms” were in it. 

10) this won’t work for those states that have a pre-ordained sine die date, but if like Idaho, you don’t, you can have people guess the date and time of sine die and give a prize to the person who comes closest.

Of course, prizes and treats and coffee are provided all week. And in recent years, I've discovered that people like it when I add some physical activities, so we've also had a day where we did: bean bag toss or croquet outside or a mini-golf course set up through the library stacks. Those activities bring in people who aren't normally interested in the trivia or word-based contests.

And from previous years:


From Teresa Wilt, Assistant Librarian, Research Library, Legislative Counsel Bureau, Nevada

We’re going to have a little fun with the librarian stereotype. We are planning a “Best Bun” contest. You can participate by dressing like a librarian and/or by providing your favorite roll/pastry to be served at our afternoon tea. Danielle is going to represent the punk rock librarian contingent, while I will probably serve up the more traditional sweater set and pearls.

We are also going to do a slideshow on our intranet with old photos of legislators and staff – partly for fun, and also to get help identifying people that we haven’t been able to yet.


From Eddie Weeks, Legislative Librarian, Office of Legal Services, Tennessee

I do a daily set of trivia questions for Library Week, five to seven questions each day, with a prize offered for the first person to respond with all correct answers for that day's questions. The topic for each day’s set of questions differs; cities, counties, governors, legislators / General Assembly, history / trivia.

Sample questions:

1.       Who was the first governor of the State of Tennessee who was born in the State of Tennessee?

2.       Which Tennessee city changed the spelling of its name in 1983, and from what to what?

3.       The two most recently created counties of Tennessee were both named for former state legislators. Name these two counties.

4.       A hotel in Nashville was once well-known for its coffee. The hotel burned in 1961, but the coffee remains a national brand today. Name the hotel.

5.       The first official flag of the State of Tennessee had three words diagonally across it.  What were the words?

6.       David “Davy” Crockett was a member of which two General Assemblies?

Follow-up: so which hotel burned down? (see number 4 above)  It was the Maxwell House Hotel. Seven presidents stayed at the Maxwell House Hotel, including Theodore Roosevelt, whose comment that the coffee was "good to the last drop" launched the advertising slogan used for years to promote the nation's first blended coffee. Other visitors included Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, "Buffalo Bill" Cody, General Tom Thumb, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and George Westinghouse. The Maxwell House burned on Christmas night 1961.  More

We have also used a word game in our celebration.  The legislative process turns bills into laws.  In this game, take BILL and turn it into LAWS. Change one letter of the first word to make a new, real word, without changing the position of any of the letters.  Then repeat the process, until you go from BILL to LAWS (using only real words!).

B     I    L    L
__  __  __  __
__  __  __  __
__  __  __  __
__  __  __  __

L    A    W   S

That's the fewest steps in which I can do it; can you do it in fewer?
Example, HEAD to FOOT:


First one to get it wins… the fleeting admiration of your fellow librarians


From Melanie Harshman, Administrative Librarian, Texas Legislative Reference Library

We just wanted to share our National Library Week activities here in Texas. You can see them on our blog

Activities included a Texas trivia contest (is it illegal to pick bluebonnets in Texas?), word clouds comparing legislative topics in 1883 vs. 2011, and a legislative word search. We also had a great response to these on our Twitter feed.

Thanks for all of your inspiration and ideas, and a Happy National Library Week from all of us in Texas!


From Patricia Reichert, Senior Legislative Librarian, Legislative Reference Bureau

The Library staff at the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau put together a quiz for National Library Week and posted it to the LRB's Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Of course it's all about Wisconsin but it is multiple choice so why not give it a shot!  Take the LRB Quiz!

Additional Resources