Sunday, December 11, 2022

Dinovember 2022!



I finally had the chance to do Dinovember again! I had the opportunity first way back in 2018, and it was a huge success and a whole lot of fun (to see what I did then, go to my "Dinovember Reflection" post). Even though it was very successful, I wasn't able to repeat it until now due to not having a good social media partner, job changes, relocating, etc. This time, marketing youth services and materials is part of my job, and I am able to post to social media myself, so did not have to rely on convincing and coordinating with someone else to get the events publicized and get the stage photos posted, with the captions that I wanted.

For those who may be new to "Dinovember",

it's a month-long celebration of imagination and creativity centered around dinosaurs. It was conceived by Refe and Susan Tume about 10 years ago to provide some comic relief when their family was going through a difficult time. Each night, while their children slept, the Tumes would stage their kids' toy dinosaurs getting into all kinds of mischief. The Tumes shared photos on social media, and the idea went viral. The Tumes now have an official Dinovember website and have published 3 books with their dinosaurs' antics, What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night, What the Dinosaurs Did at School, and What the Dinosaurs Did the Night Before Christmas. 

My interpretation of Dinovember had four parts:

  1. What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night - This is the heart of Dinovember. I staged and posted an average of 3 photos a week (every day is just too much to keep up with) using our toy dinosaurs, using each post to try to highlight a library program, service, or materials. See slideshow below, or go to the album on my Facebook page. The dinos first act was to take over the book display and fill it with dinosaur books.
  2. Dinosaur Décor - We have a large-scale plotter, which I used to print out several cute dinosaurs and a volcano to put on the walls, I hung some purchased pterodactyls from the ceiling, and cut out dinosaur footprints from granite contact paper and put them on the floor. I also brought in my large dinosaur skeletons and inflatables to put on the tops of the shelving. In addition, one of our shelvers put their artistic talents to work on the glass wall of the teen room (photo below). 
  3. Programming - I did three staff-led programs for various ages:
    1. Dinosaur Stomp - family program on Election Day when there would be no school, starting with dinosaur stories and songs, followed by four different activities to rotate among: dinosaur scratch art, a coloring table with coloring pages, blank paper, rubbing plates, and stencils; a sensory bin with sand, small dino skeletons, shells, and rocks; and free play with all of our toy dinosaurs. 
    2. Dinosaur Storytime - regular preschool storytime with a dinosaur theme.
    3. Kids Club - monthly after school program for ages 5-11, with a paleontology theme. The kids made dinosaur tracks in clay with the toy dinos and then made plaster casts of the tracks, and then were given purchased "dinosaur eggs" from which to excavate baby dinos.
  4. Self Directed Activities
    1. Dinosaur Election - Also on Election Day, I set up a polling station for kids to vote for their favorite dinosaur. I put five dinosaurs on the ballot, with names and images: Brachiosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Pteranodon. To my surprise, Triceratops beat out T. rex for the win.
    2. Dinosaur Egg Hunt - I purchased plastic dinosaur eggs that were pre-filled with tiny rubber dinosaurs from Oriental Trading, and hid them around the children's department on the morning of the day before Thanksgiving, and kids were invited to drop by any time that day to hunt for them. I thought we might need to have something going on that day due to kids being out of school, but we had very few families come in, so next time I'll do this as part of another program.
    3. Scavenger Hunt - We always have a scavenger hunt going on that is changed weekly. We keep it simple, hiding pictures around the department with stickers as a reward; this month I also added dinosaur temporary tattoos. We had carnivores, herbivores, dinosaur jokes & puns, and dinosaur characters from books, movies, and TV.
    4. Book Display - The dinosaurs immediately took over the book display and filled it with dinosaur books. After doing this I realized I need to replace and further develop our dinosaur non-fiction!
    5. Coloring & Activity Sheets - We also have a coloring table that always has a variety of coloring sheets and crayons, so this month there were lots of dino coloring sheets as well as seasonal and others.

So, how did it go?

Overall, it went well and I got some very positive feedback about individual events and lots of engagement on social media, but I didn't quite get the overwhelming enthusiasm I was hoping for and had gotten previously. But this is a much smaller and very different community, and I think I confused them a bit with the whole "Dinovember" concept, and having dinosaurs everywhere in November instead of pilgrims and turkeys. 

This library has a history of being very traditional, and I don't think our patrons have ever really seen something like this before. At first I was a bit disappointed and thinking it wasn't doing that well; however, when I compared engagement with the social media posts relative to population and number of followers with my previous Dinovember at a different library, it was actually doing pretty well. The biggest difference I noticed is that this community is less likely to leave comments, but they do like, react, and share. There were a total of around 350 likes, reactions, comments, and/or shares directly on on our Facebook page from all Dinovember related posts (this does not count all the likes or reshares on shared posts). Considering we are a small, rural library and our service population is only around 10,000 in town and 23,000 county-wide and we only have 3,500 followers on our Facebook page, that is actually a pretty significant number.

The most well-attended event was predictably the Dinosaur Stomp, and several parents expressed appreciation for us having a family event on Election Day since the kids were out of school. The Kids Club Paleontology event was not as well-attended as I'd expected, but the flu was hitting the schools hard and I had a few parents tell me later how disappointed their kids were that they weren't able to come because they got sick. The Dinosaur Egg Hunt was a bit of a miss, but I think it would go over very well as part of another program rather than by itself, plus as it turns out this community is just so small that not many people come to the library the day before Thanksgiving as I was used to seeing in a much larger (and more diverse) community. 

Will I do it again next year? Yes, and I'm curious to see if there will be a bit more enthusiasm the second time around, now that the community has been exposed to the concept.

Thinking of giving it a try? Here's a few tips:
  • Staging the "what the dinosaurs did last night" photos takes a lot longer than you think it will! Try to have ideas in advance, and possibly even take some photos in advance. The month flies by and a couple of times I had some anxiety trying to come up with ideas.
  • Look at your photos BEFORE you clean up the shoot. The camera does not see things the same way we do, and you may need to make some adjustments and re-shoot.
  • Don't try to be too clever; people viewing the pictures will not pick up on any remotely subtle clues. Things need to be fairly simple and obvious.
  • Get the whole staff involved. Encourage others to contribute ideas and help stage photos. It is a lot of fun, but also a fair amount of work if only one person is doing it all.
  • Use the social media posts to highlight or point to programs and services.
  • If you don't have the ability to post to social media yourself, make sure you get your social media person on board well in advance and let them know what you want to do and what your expectations are, and let them tell you what their requirements and limitations are regarding timing, scheduling, image size/quality, etc.
  • Know your community and manage expectations accordingly. Some people don't believe dinosaurs really existed, some do not believe in evolution, some do not accept the timelines provided by science. You may need to be careful about using the words "evolve" or "evolution" or talking about the different geological periods and timelines. In the community where I first did Dinovember, this wasn't an issue, but where I am now I do have to be more mindful of these things. 
  • Along the lines of knowing your community, you might notice that we didn't show any movies, even though their are several cute kids' movies, plus the whole Jurassic Park series for teens or adults. That is because we have found that our community has no interest in coming to the library for movies! But I know other libraries have a lot of success with movie nights, so it might work for you.
And now we come to the end of Dinovember for this year, though I still haven't taken down all my decorations, because we don't have all of our winter-themed stuff ready yet! So I simply added Santa hats to alll the dinos for the transitional period 😁 And now, to lead us into the holiday season, Santa Rex will sing us his very own version of "Deck the Halls":

"Deck the falls with Pterosaurs.
Roar, roar, roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar, roar.

'Tis the season for dinosaurs,
Roar, roar, roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar, roar.

Don we now the Elf-on-the-Shelf's apparel,
Roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar.

Troll the prehistoric dino carols,
Roar, roar, roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar, roar.

See the blazing volcano before us,
Roar, roar, roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar, roar.

Strike the ground and raise a ruckus!
Roar, roar, roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar, roar.

Follow me; let's get out of here! 
Roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar.

Once we're safe we'll give a cheer!
Roar, roar, roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar, roar!"

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