Friday, July 15, 2011

The World of Harry Potter

As the final chapter in the Harry Potter saga comes to a close with the opening of the eighth and final film, it gives me pause to reflect on the past 12 years of Harry Potter programming at the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library.

As the former Youth Services Department Head, I remember when the American version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published by Scholastic in the fall of 1998. But the real buzz started the following summer when the second book in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, came out, during our Summer Reading Program. The third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, was published in the fall of 1999. By that time, Harry was fast becoming the hottest book character I’d ever seen in my years as a children’s librarian and there was talk of making a movie. Warner Bros. released the film version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the United States in November 2001. As I recall, it was a welcome diversion for children and adults alike, after the horror of 9/11.

Some Harry Potter purists have never enjoyed seeing J.K . Rowling’s book characters come to life on the big screen and bemoan all the editing and plot changes that filmmakers have to do in order to make the films a reasonable length. I am a fan of both the books and the films and enjoy each medium for what it is.

Since 1999, the Hussey-Mayfield Library has held 27 Harry Potter-related programs for children and teens. These have included book discussion groups, individual movie events, as well as movie marathons, birthday parties for the Boy Wizard, trivia quests, and a writing contest. Costumes were often required, as well as vast HP knowledge from both the books and films. Our Library’s first Harry Potter program was a Book Discussion Group that met for four Mondays in November 1999 to discuss the first three books in the series. These programs included fun, exciting talks and activities. Due to popular demand, the series was repeated in February 2000. The Library’s first REALLY BIG program was planned and carried out by the entire Youth Services Department staff in early November 2001, and included a five-hour open house of activities such as wand making, child-friendly fortune telling, games, making wizard cards, coloring pages, plus magical snacks of the Hogwarts variety. The program was advertised for children 5 and older and the attendance by costume-clad witches and wizards was HUGE! This program helped everyone get excited about the release of the first film later that month.

Through the years, as Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, aged and entered adolescence, so too did the readers of the books, and Library programs were offered for teens as well as youths. Over the years, teen Harry Potter programs have included the writing contest, movie marathons, fun crafts & activities [wand making, tea leaf reading, crystal ball-making and sorcerer stone-like jewelry-making], and trivia games, culminating in this summer’s movie blitz and craft & activity bonanza these past 2 weeks.

Did you get to see the Library’s first-ever Quidditch demonstration and event held this week? It was provided by two members of the Purdue University Quidditch Team! After today’s Teen Trivia Game and the Harry Potter Birthday Party in Youth Services on July 29th, the Library’s Harry Potter programming, in celebration of the release of the final movie in the series, will be

It has been quite a roll over the past 12 years. Children have grown up with Harry Potter and your Public Library has grown with Harry as well, providing programs and events to enhance children’s and teens’ enjoyment and understanding of Harry and his quest. I don’t think this month’s Harry Potter programs will be the last by any means – Harry Potter has become one of those characters that will become a literary hero for readers of all ages and libraries, including ours. Our librarians will continue to introduce new fans to Harry, Hogwarts and all of J.K . Rowling’s incredible cast of characters and wonderful writing – maybe we’ll even have some future programs for adults! Any takers?

So, enjoy reading the seven Harry Potter books over and over, gleaning new insights each time. Or, listen to Jim Dale read the books on Listening Library’s audio versions; he has created a myriad of fantastic voices for all the characters. And, see the films when you’re ready for them.

Watch for future Harry Potter programs at the Zionsville Library – I’m sure you’ll find something HP-related on down the road…

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