ALA Midwinter 2011: Louisiana Library Wins $10,000 for Best Playaway DisplayContest winner Rapides Parish Library, Alexandria, LA, will use the unfettered cash prize to bring teen authors to the library. By Raya Kuzyk and Rebecca Miller Jan 13, 2011
Tammy DiBartolo, youth services manager at the Westside Regional Branch of Rapides Parish Library (RPL), Alexandria, LA, paid her own way to the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in San Diego, but when she walked out, her library was $10,000 richer.
That was the winning cash prize amount of Findaway World's "Picture This" contest, which challenged North American public libraries to submit the most creative display of the company's flagship product, Playaway preloaded digital audiobook players, and related promotional materials.
Playaway's Caroline Barni, left, presents RPL's Tammi DiBartolo, right, with the $10,000 cash prize.
Findaway preselected ten finalists from among the contest's 157 entrants—including LJ 2010 Best Small Library in America Glen Carbon Centennial Library, IL—then it was up to public online voting. RPL's Westside Regional Branch won the top prize for its "Playaway Café" (pictured below), which incorporated staff into the display, while the three runners-up—Everett Public Library (WA), Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library (OH), and Morton Grove Public Library (IL)—each received a selection of Playaway titles valued at $1000.
RPL's Westside Regional Branch incorporated staff into its winning "Playaway café" display.
DiBartolo, who tells LJ her library plans to use the prize money to get "teen authors to come to speak to the teens," harnessed the powers of social media in soliciting votes, posting callouts on the Facebook pages of both Rapides Parish and the Louisiana Library Association, Twittering about competition (@tam59), advertising in regional venues like TheTownTalk.com, and even posting a music video starring library staff on the Rapides Parish website, where a message of thanks to the community now reads: "We asked. We begged. We cajoled. We made a music video. You voted. We won!"
This is not the first such competition sponsored by Findaway, which had previously awarded 90 libraries each a 15-title collection of Playaway titles as part of its summer 2009 giveaway, but it is the first time the company had awarded a cash prize of this amount, to be used at the winning library's discretion. Asked whether another "Picture This" contest with similarly high stakes was in the pipeline, Playaway marketing/PR director Caroline Barni, who coordinated the effort, said, "we are going to be gathering feedback from our participants on the contest and process before making a decision."
Visit LJ/SLJ's ALA Conference News page for additional coverage of the Midwinter Meeting.