Today I experienced my first defeat as a Library Director. I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. I was not defeated by the municipality, the library board, my employees, or a patron. It was Mother Nature who did me in!
For the past month, I have been working hard to organize a library promotional/fundraising event to coincide with the popular Tracadie 2-mile swim. This annual event draws a huge number of participants and my idea was to display material from the library that would interest this target group of potential users (books on sports training, nutrition, biographies of athletes, health issues, etc). In order to promote our library network’s “Adopt-a-book” fundraising program, I also put together a comprehensive Wish List of specific titles to purchase for the collection for which people could donate money in return for an Ex Libris with their name in the adopted book. My summer student workers made a beautifully designed sign with the motto “Make a Splash your Library” and one of the board members had volunteered to come help out. I was so excited about my first attempt of fundraising and promoting the library at a community event to people who might not necessarily already be library members.
Despite all this preparation, Mother Nature had different plans. The swimmers were supposed to start at 1pm this afternoon and I was going to set up at the community centre where participants and spectators would meet afterwards for a meal and the prize ceremony. However, this morning the heavy rains and wind created water conditions that would have been unsafe for the swimmers and so the event was cancelled.
I obviously applaud the event organizers who came to this decision based on the security of the participants. Although I was still very disappointed when I realized that my work to create highly targeted promotional material would go unused. I might have reacted a bit dramatically when I found out it had been cancelled but I should have remembered that organizing library events and activities is always a risk. What if you put a lot of work into an event and no one shows up? What if you invest time and money into hosting a guest speaker who turns out to be boring? I don’t regret the time I put into organizing the library’s presence at this event. If it had worked out, I’m confident that we would have raised a lot of money and awareness for the library. I will try to think up a way to recycle this idea, even if it does mean waiting until next year’s edition of the Tracadie 2-mile swim.
What about you? Any horror stories of event planning that went awry? How did you attempt to save the day?