Do-It-Yourself Library Programming – Movies

movie_nightMany libraries have a movie license to show films at library programs.  Here are some ways to add movie showings to library programs to get the most benefit from the money spent for your movie license.  Some of these ideas are my own, and some were adapted from a PUBYAC listserv compilation posted by Emily E. Bacon of the Kanawha County Library.

If your library is interested in purchasing a movie license, there are two major companies that provide this service.  They are Movie Licensing USA: and the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation:  Go to their websites for information on how to obtain a license, costs, movie titles covered under that company’s license, and more. Both companies list great resource material on their sites, from publicity ideas to checklists for library programming.

Even though families can obtain DVDs from the library, or from Netflix, people still enjoy watching a movie together as a community event. Sell refreshments as a way to offset some of the costs, and to make it more like a “real” movie theatre event (the Friends of the Library may want to do this as a fundraiser).

Show eight minute Scholastic/Weston Woods videos at the end of Preschool or Family Storytimes. You can do this during the craft and toy playtimes, for older siblings who have attended.  See for the DVDs available.

For your tween or teen book discussion clubs, show a film based on the book everyone has read for that month’s meeting.

For tween book clubs, you might show the following films:
How to Train Your Dragon
The Adventures of Tin Tin
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Ramona and Beezus
The Chronicles of Narnia
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Nim’s Island
Because of Winn Dixie
City of Ember
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bridge to Terebithia
Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of Ga’Hoole

Teen book clubs would enjoy:
The Hunger Games
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Chronicles of Narnia
Secret Life of Bees
Cheaper by the Dozen
The Call of the Wild     
Sherlock Holmes
Blood and Chocolate

Holiday vacation movie showings can be an easy way to draw in a wide age range, and remind families to use the library when school is not in session.  Movie theatres are packed when school is out, and libraries can draw an equally enthusiastic crowd.  Try some of these films:

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Hotel Transylvania
Classic Universal versions of Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Dracula

Christmas/Winter Break:
Arthur Christmas
The Santa Clause
Santa Paws
Jingle All the Way
Polar Express
A Christmas Story

Easter/Spring Break:
Gnomeo and Juliet
Secret of the Wings (Tinkerbell)
Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax

Summer vacation is also a great time to show movies.  Schedule films at different days and times to see when you draw the largest crowd.  Saturday matinees are a natural, but you might also see a big turnout on a weeknight, when parents are home from work and seeking fun and free things to do with their kids.

Movies to coincide with displays:  Do a movie showing that celebrates a big book display.  For example, if you do a Black History Month display, show the film Red Tails, which celebrates the Tuskegee Airmen. Or show one of the films nominated for an Academy Award a week or two before the Oscar telecast, to go along with a display of film appreciation books. Another fun display could be done for “Talk Like a Pirate” day in September, to pair with a showing of the first Pirates of the Caribbean film.

Black History Month:
Ruby Bridges
Remember the Titans
March On!
Akeelah and the Bee

Women’s History Month:
A League of Their Own
The Miracle Worker

Presidents (more for teens and adults):
All the President’s Men
You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown (for kids)

Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything
The Pirates: Band of Misfits

Howl’s Moving Castle
Spirited Away
Princess Mononoke
My Neighbor Totoro

Do movie singalongs: A new, popular take on a library movie showing is to hold a “sing-along movie” event. This takes place when the library shows a movie musical on DVD, activating the DVD’s captions, so the audience can sing along during the musical numbers. Many movie musicals on DVD come with a special feature where only the lyrics show up as captions, in bold colors, so the audience knows it is time to join in. You can make it even more exciting if staff, volunteers, and even the audience dress in costumes relating to the movie.

Possible movies:
The Sound of Music
The Wizard of Oz
The Muppets
Mary Poppins

Make it a Movie Party: Why show a movie at the library if DVDs can be checked out and watched at home? The communal experience of watching a movie in a group setting is one reason, and if you add elements to make a library movie program more exciting you will have an even more memorable program. Here are some fun things to do before or after the movie showing: hold a trivia contest about the movie, discuss how the movie compares to the book, make T-shirts relating to the movie, such as Team Jacob and Team Edward shirts to go with Twilight.

Classic Movies:  Show some old classic movies that appeal to tweens, teens, and adults (including seniors).  You can cover a genre each week over the summer, from mysteries like Maltese Falcon to musicals like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to screwball comedies like Sullivan’s Travels. And finally, have some DVD displays on these same topics, so families can have their own film festivals at home!

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