Every year I hear from several librarians that I am the best-attended event of their Summer Reading Program season. I love hearing that. It lets me know that all of the hard work I do is paying off. However, it can be a double-edged sword. I recently had one librarian tell me that the reason she couldn't have me for her Summer Reading Program is that I drew too many people and her library couldn't handle the crowd.
I can see her point. Not only is there a comfort issue, but there's also safety issues and fire codes to worry about.
Many libraries have solved this problem by having me come for multiple shows on one day. Several libraries in Lincoln and Omaha have me for two shows. I've had some libraries have me for three. The Keene Memorial Library in Fremont, Nebraska usually has me for four! If a library has me for multiple shows, I can always offer reduced prices.
Another idea is to have me do a show someplace other than your library. Before they built their beautiful new library, Syracuse, Nebraska would have me perform in the basement community room of a bank. My Summer Reading Program magic show in Wahoo, Nebraska is in a community center gym. The South Branch Library in Lincoln works with a neighboring church and uses their community room for my magic show. I've also performed in VFW Halls, garages, retirement home community rooms and public parks to name a few. While I prefer not to perform outside (see a previous blog on outdoor shows), I will do it if there's no other option.
I would encourage you to consider multiple shows though. Sure, that statement appears to be a sales pitch, but it really makes sense. Smaller crowds would enjoy the show more. If someone is 50 feet away and has trouble seeing or hearing, they're not experiencing the same great show as those who are 10-20 feet away. People are also more comfortable in smaller groups.
In order to make sure the shows are evenly attended, you may want to hand out tickets for each show. Several libraries have done that with great success. You also may want to consider having one show just for daycares and child care centers. That leaves a lot more room at the other show for parents with their children.
To make more room, I've known some libraries that have actually moved some of the bookcases around to make a larger area in the middle of the library. The Millard Branch Library in Omaha has me on one end of their library and the audience sitting all the way back almost to the other end of the library. This is always one of my best-attended shows and I love it. I would estimate there are easily 250-300 people there. I always bring my sound system just to make sure everyone can hear me.
Whether your crowd is 12 or 450, I look forward to performing my new magic show for your library Summer Reading Program!