The module readings on Hyperlinked Communities this week made me want to share something about my local public library system that I absolutely love. Over the past few years a couple of the branches have held Pub Trivia nights for the 21 and over crowd. It’s completely free, they serve snacks and beer and wine (not unlimited but still FREE), there are small prizes, and the nights are themed. I just attended a movie/television/music themed event in early February. In October, they held a trivia night with a costume contest for Halloween. I haven’t dressed up for Halloween in a few years so I took the opportunity to really have fun and went as Barb from Stranger Things. I won the second place prize (a giant Toblerone)! First went to a really elaborate and amazing Edward Scissorhands.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the trivia nights is meeting all kinds of people from the community. I’ve been on teams of people that included lawyers, retired radio broadcasters, a zoologist, and a nurse. The strongest trivia teams are groups of people of all different ages and interests so my friends and I are always excited by the opportunity to join forces with new people!
In any case, I bring this up because it was triggered by my reading of Sally Pewhairangi’s (2014) A Beautiful Obsession and Aaron Schmidt’s (2016) Asking the Right Questions. Schmidt, in his discussion of library users and the surveys/questions we ask them, says that “instead of asking people about libraries, we need to ask people about their lives.” In a similar vein, Pewhairangi says that after learning more about your “most valuable members,” take that data and “turn these insights into products and services that will capture their attention, surprise them and delight them.”
For me, this Pub Trivia event is a beautiful example of a library thinking beyond its usual service/events offerings of children/family events, and remembered that a large portion of their community are adults (singles, parents, retirees, etc). The library system has created an event that piques the interest of a broad range of people of different ages and backgrounds, bringing them together in a safe, warm, supportive environment. While a trivia night in general is a wonderful way to offer an event that appeals to many, this particular event fills a huge need for my community. I live on the “Peninsula” sandwiched between San Francisco and San Jose where there’s not a lot going on in the evening if you don’t want to shop, go to the movies, or head into SF or SJ. This event is a little oasis in a desert of suburban sprawl. Like many others,I don’t really like going out late at night, I like free stuff, I love trivia. It’s a perfect event for me and for the 50+ people that also show up. I’m sure if this was held on a monthly basis instead of quarterly, I’m certain they’d get the same amount of people attending each month. But, this is an event that also requires staff time for preparation and question writing, funds for food and drink, and funds for prizes. So, while unfortunate, the 4 events a year limit is understandable.
At the end of the events, the organizers pass out something very important: the ever useful feedback/comment card. The questions are something along the lines:
- “Would you come to another trivia event?”
- “What did you think about the snacks?”
- “Did you think the trivia was challenging enough?”
- “Do you have any suggestions for us?”
- “Would you like us to add you to our events list?”
This is where I feel improvement could be made and thanks to Aaron Schmidt, who warns against generic questions, I’ll come prepared with my suggestions for the next event. More specific questions could really help shape future events.
- “What would you say your trivia subject specialties are?”
- “What is your occupation?”
- “What were you favorite subject and least favorite in school?”
- “Where did you grow up and where do you live now?”
The above, more specific questions could all be a huge help for the organizers when it comes to choosing trivia next time around. This would provide them with information about how far away people are coming for the event and what their trivia strengths and weaknesses might be. Asking something else like “What games do you like to play?” could even help the library create more community game nights.
The Pub Trivia nights are a step in the right direction and with the help of community feedback, I hope that more will be done to make these nights a bigger success!