Tag Archives: Program ideas

Organizing a prom dress giveaway

Project Fairy Godmother Prom Dress Giveaway.This month I organized the First Annual Project Fairy Godmother Prom Dress Giveaway at my library. I was overwhelmed and humbled by the positive community response — when we put out a call for donations, over 300 dresses came in, and the event was shared both in person and on Facebook and Twitter many, many times! This was truly a group effort, and I could not have done it without the help of many people. If you think an event like this would be good for your community, and have questions for me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! And if you want another perspective, check out this blog post by the extraordinary Regina Townsend that gave me the idea for this program.


I started planning for our mid-March event in November. The first thing I had to do was make sure we had a place to store donated dresses. Thankfully, we have a lot of storage space in our basement, and were able to lay down plastic sheets so the dresses (stored in garment bags) would not get dusty. I also reached out to co-workers and community members to see if anyone had clothing racks we could borrow to store donations and display them the day of the event. Thankfully, word of the program spread to someone who suggested we talk to Community Hospital, who let us borrow some clothing racks that they use for their Coats for Caring program in the fall.


We began collecting donations just after New Years’ and continued up until the day before the event. Next year, I plan to give myself at least a week between accepting the last donations and holding the program. I was fortunate that Circulation and Maintenance staff were extremely helpful in collecting and storing donations. We collected dresses and prom-related accessories, including shoes, purses, jewelry, and shawls.

I also reached out to local businesses that provided prom-related services, to ask if they would be willing to donate anything. One local salon offered discount coupons, and another donated gift baskets to be raffled off. A local jewelry salesperson also donated a few pairs of earrings and rings. Finally, a staff member’s wife who does alterations volunteered to do free alterations at the event.


Promotion, promotion, promotion! I continued collecting donations, and advertised the event everywhere I could think of. In addition to the library’s social media, I sent flyers to my contacts at the local high schools, and our Marketing Coordinator promoted the program on the local radio station. The local paper contacted me and ran a front-page article about the event, which really helped spread the word. I’m also fortunate to have the student body president of the public high school on our Teen Advisory Board. He reads the announcements every day, and talked up the program in the weeks leading up to it.

I also started getting dresses cleaned in February. A local dry cleaner offered us a significant discount on cleanings, and was even kind enough to drop off clean dresses and pick up the next round of gowns at the library. They expressed interest in partnering with us again next year, and I look forward to working with them!

Finally, I arranged for a mix of staff and volunteers to help with the event.


I continued to promote the program and collect donations. Our Maintenance manager helped come up with a setup for the program room and built temporary changing rooms in the most impressive transformation of a storage room I’ve ever seen.

The day before, a volunteer and I spent the whole day sorting dresses by size, then by color within each size. I would not have finished on time without this volunteer’s help. As it is, we started at noon on a Saturday, and even with the help of two volunteers we were still getting things ready at 11:58. Next year, I’ll give myself an extra day to set up.

On the day of the event, I had volunteers working the “checkout” (all we asked was to see a high school ID), tracking how many dresses were given away (30 total) and what schools the shoppers came from; returning dresses that didn’t fit to their racks; helping girls as “personal shoppers”; and staffing the accessory tables.

We also had a red carpet and a photo booth just outside the program room. I’m debating whether to have these again next year or not; if I do, I think I’ll try to get the photo booth inside the program room, because no one really took pictures in their dresses. We also had giant thank you cards for our local partners for shoppers to sign as they left.

In all, this program was a lot of fun, and I consider it a big success for our first year. Working in a community where seventy percent of our students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, my goal with this event was to help our teens have a memorable prom without their having to stress over how to afford a dress. I look forward to hosting this event for many years to come.

Got questions about the Project Fairy Godmother Prom Dress Giveaway? Thinking of hosting your own giveaway? Let me know in the comments!


Get Caught Reading Program Ideas

Get Caught Reading raffle ticket.

In honor of Get Caught Reading Month, I’ve introduced a program this May in which the librarians in my department hand out raffle tickets to people we “catch” reading around the library.  It gives us another way to see what our patrons are interested in, and to show them a more human side to the library, even if that’s just a short conversation about what they’re reading or the raffle they’re entering.  Along with the raffle tickets, we’re also handing out bookmarks with information about Summer Reading, which starts on June 1.  So we’re encouraging reading, engaging patrons, and promoting other library programs.

The nice thing about this is that it’s relatively simple and inexpensive to implement.  I designed and printed the tickets and bookmarks myself, and we’re raffling off a gift certificate to the Friends of the Library book sale, so there were virtually no overhead costs.  (Side note: a huge thanks to the Friends for supporting my last-minute contest ideas!)

Since this is the first time we’re doing this, we’ve kept if fairly simple.  However, I’ve come up with a few ideas for more involved programs that could tie in with Get Caught Reading Month that I thought I’d share, in case any of you want to try a Get Caught Reading promotion at your library.

1. Have people submit pictures of themselves reading around town for a Get Caught Reading photo contest.  You could award prizes for the whackiest or most unique photo.  With the patrons’ permission, you could post some of the pictures on your library’s Facebook page or other social media site, and let people compare their favorite reading spots.

2. If your community is big on local history or has a lot of unique sites, you could have a Get Caught Reading scavenger hunt where people check in at various sites throughout town.  This could be as simple as snapping a photo with a book and the building/statue/monument in the background, or if you wanted (and if the necessary parties were receptive to the idea), you could partner with local businesses to have them stamp a scavenger’s “passport” proving they were reading there.  If you went the passport route, you could find yourself with a number of local partners grateful for your support (and who will hopefully return the favor if you ask them!).

Does your library do anything for Get Caught Reading Month?  Or have you tried anything similar to the ideas I’ve come up with?  If so, I’d love to hear how the program went!