Now that the dust has settled on the second annual World Bookmark Day, I want to reflect on what I learned by organizing the celebration. Frankly, I was worried that this year’s Woboda would fall flat without Asim’s network of supporters, design skill and boundless enthusiasm. The preparations for 2017’s Woboda started almost a year in advance, and January 2018 was really the start for this year. I decided to scale back some of the activities out of necessity and lack of time. Asim, our founder, was able to offer prizes from his bookmark business for the contests such as an article or limerick, but we had nothing to offer this time so those events were eliminated. Would it be possible to generate interest in printable designs and the raffle, both of which were popular last year? I decided to ask two friends who are artists/illustrators with connections to books and reading, and was thrilled when they both agreed to contribute designs. That was the beginning, and then I realized there were other people in my network who might contribute. Sarah Bodman, organizer of the Bookmark Project at the University of the West of England, put me in touch with several artists who contributed designs, and Robin Blum, owner of In My Book, kindly donated some of her wonderful bookmark greeting cards. Our local Bookmark Bookstore not only donated bookmarks found in their donated books but also agreed to host a display. In the end, we had 705 bookmarks contributed or donated, 13 printable designs, and 9 entrants in the raffle. Smaller than last year but still quite respectable!
So what did I learn and what changes might happen for next year?
Planning: First and most obvious is to start planning much earlier, perhaps August or September. I don’t think it is necessary to plan the entire year, but certainly a few months’ notice to all participants makes sense to encourage participation.
Publicity: Besides the IFOB web site, we use other means to bring attention to the event.
Social media: At the suggestion of a member, I started a Facebook page for IFOB which did seem to bring in some additional interest and made it possible for people to keep up with progress on the raffle and comment. It wasn’t too much extra effort to keep up with this, so I will probably do it again. However, I am thinking of keeping the page just for Woboda and possibly starting a Facebook group for IFOB. More on that later, now that I better understand how to use pages vs. groups. Are there other social media platforms that are good for publicizing the event?
Graphics: Last year, Asim created some fun graphics that could be posted on other web sites or printed. Without access to design skills, we didn’t have that option this time, although Rosemarie Abel kindly helped update Wobo. I am still hoping someone will volunteer to create simple graphics for IFOB on occasion. Everything nowadays is so visual that we need to use eye catching designs whenever possible.
Donors/Sponsors: More time to cultivate donors of prizes, raffle contributions or sponsors who might provide funds would be valuable, and I would welcome any suggestions for who to contact.
Designers of printable bookmarks: While we had a couple of people repeat from last year, I anticipate that the same people will not participate every year. How could we identify others who would contribute designs? Do our members know other artists and designers they could ask? Another question is whether we should always put the current year on these bookmarks or create generic Woboda text that could be used every year?
Activities with prizes: If we are able to find donors or sponsors for prizes, should we reinstate the Woboda article and limerick contests? Anything else?
Wobo and Woboda bookmarks around the world: We had only a few people who shared photos of either Wobo, the traveling bookmark or Woboda designs in interesting places around the world. Is this activity worth continuing? Should we offer a prize for the best photo?
Local events: Some members indicated they would like to work with local libraries, bookstores or cafes next year for displays, giveaways or other events. Is there anything we could do to help with these? For example, I could post downloadable versions of the display materials I used.
Raffle: Most of the effort went toward coordinating this activity, which raises several questions.
Our goal in establishing World Bookmark Day was to bring attention to bookmarks as a useful, beautiful and interesting companion to books and reading. People are often surprised to hear about bookmark collectors, but when they stop and think, they realize it is not so unusual and can be quite interesting. From my perspective, we are making progress in realizing our goal as more people become informed and involved. It was really fun for me to interact with them, see the different bookmarks and designs, and get to know some of our members a little better. Most grateful thanks go to all who participated, donated, and contributed! I invite members and anyone to comment on this year’s celebration and ideas for making next year even better. --Laine, IFOB co-editor