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Library's annual reading challenge changes to DVDs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha County Public Library is spending the next three months reminding its patrons of one of its most expansive collections -- and it's not of books.

For the first time, the library's annual Winter Reading Challenge will become the Winter Viewing Challenge, and will reward library-goers for checking out DVDs.

The spin on the annual reading challenge is a win-win for the library, said Terry Wooten, marketing and development manager for KCPL, because it not only promotes the system's audio-visual collection, but it also puts more focus on the West Virginia Reads Challenge, which has been green-lighted for 2014 after this year's overwhelming success.

Earlier this year, the West Virginia Reads Challenge was launched to celebrate the state's sesquicentennial, with nearly 2,000 people pledging to read 150 books -- one for each year of statehood.

The event, which was originally going to be only for Kanawha County library patrons, quickly expanded statewide, and now readers are being asked to again join in groups to read 151 books in 2014.

The library cancelled its annual Winter Reading Challenge in 2013 to put the focus on the sesquicentennial program. But this year, the Winter Challenge is being centered on the library's DVD collection and will work hand-in-hand with the West Virginia Reads Challenge, Wooten said.

For example, if a Winter Viewing Challenge participant watches a film that's based on a book, they can count that toward their West Virginia Reads list.

System-wide, Kanawha County Public Libraries has a collection of more than 30,000 free DVDs, which include family movies, foreign movies, documentaries, performing arts pieces, instructional movies, West Virginia-made productions and a selection of TV series, according to Wooten.

"It's normally a reading challenge. This is the first year we're doing the viewing challenge, and that's just to make people more aware of the DVDs we have in the collection and that those are available to check out anytime for free," Wooten said. "We're tying all the challenges together."

 The Winter Viewing Challenge is designed for adults, and participants are encouraged to check out as many of the films as possible from Jan. 2 through March 31.

There is no minimum of DVDs required to be checked out to enter the contest. Those interested only have to rent a DVD from the library in the coming months in order to enter the drawing to win a prize, Wooten said.

The only guidelines for the winter viewing club are that DVDs cannot be children's films and must be checked out from the Kanawha County Public Library or the WV DELI website.

Participants will be eligible for monthly prize drawings for a chance to win a copy of the book, "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" and other small prizes.

Prizes are provided by The Friends of The Library Foundation.

Wooten hopes that the event will get more people to take advantage of the library's free video services all-year-long.

A maximum of 10 DVDs can be checked out for a 7-day loan period.  Alternately, the "Express DVD" collection allows a single item to be checked out for two days.

Express DVDs are available at the Main Library in Charleston and at branches in Clendenin, Cross Lanes, Dunbar, Elk Valley, Riverside, Sissonville and St. Albans.

The rules of the West Virginia Reads Challenge have changed slightly this year: there is no limit to how many people are on a reading team.

While there is no prize given to winning teams of West Virginia Reads, the library sends each team a newsletter every month highlighting the success of a reading group, and the pride attached seems to be enough to keep readers going, Wooten said. Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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