Last week I finally got everything in place to launch a system wide geocaching event in conjunction with our Big Read program, which centers around To Kill a Mockingbird (well, almost everything-I’ll fill you in on that later).
Tonight I received a positive comment from a participant as posted on the Geocaching.com site and am feeling jazzed. The bolded emphasis is mine.
“FTF – Wow!!’ I was very intrigued by this cache when I saw it come up last week, and I decided to tackle the stages during the week.’ I got three of them during my travels over the course of a couple of days, and I really wanted to finish it up over the weekend.’ The last couple of stages were a bit of a haul from my homebase (not that it’s ever stopped me before!), so I decided to do these this afternoon to keep my mind off the Panthers game tonight and to complete the cache.’ All of the stages were a lot of fun, and I met some really nice people working in the libraries along the way.’ I didn’t know that the cache at the first stage even existed, and I’ve been going to this branch for many years!’ I had never visited the last two locations, so this was a treat as well. I got my picture taken at the final stage while holding the log with my name at the top – very cool!!’ I read To Kill a Mockingbird in the summertime when I was a teenager, and it still ranks in my top fifteen best books ever read.’ I was so jazzed about finishing the cache that I checked out a copy so I could re-read it and celebrate. Thanks so much for setting this cache up – I had a blast!”
While this comment came from an adult,’ I look forward to hopefully seeing more positive experiences from families and teens in the near future. What I noticed most, and was one of my goals for the project to begin with is that this will pull in those that aren’t necessarily library users. It doesn’t mean they will necessarily become a long term user, but the fact they experienced friendly staff and that the library was offering a service to them in an area they frequented (geocaching sites) is very meaningful.
I’ll give you some tips that I think will help if you’re wanting to plan something similar:
- If you can organize some type of staff participation before launching it to patrons, do it. I was able to have a simple treasure hunt with books in wrapping paper that we gave away at our teen services retreat in an outdoor park using the GPS units. These staff were then my contacts for informing their staff at the branches about geocaching for the system wide event.
- Lose your fear of looking silly but have your ID ready and GPS unit visible.’ I was literally planting cache’s of plastic school boxes around the hedges of library branches. When I walked into one branch after doing this and saw the off duty police officer staring out the window, I definitely thought I was done for. Fortunately he somehow didn’t notice what looked like illicit activity. I just smiled and went about my business. But honestly, you will have to scope the place a bit to find out where a good fit for a cache would be as well as get the coordinates from your GPS unit. This can take some time and standing around in odd places.
- Be prepared for revisions. I posted the multi-cache (this means more than one cache and one location were involved) on Geocaching.com. It doesn’t become live until a volunteer is satisfied that your post has met all the criteria. If your coordinates are way off for example, that’s not cool. If all of your cache’s aren’t handicap accessible and you don’t indicate that, expect to go back to the drawing board. I indicated this was my first multi-cache so I think the volunteer had an extra eagle eye. Fortunately after a few revisions, it met his standards and I am thankful he put me through the accuracy test. As he pointed out, if the coordinates weren’t right on, there would be some unhappy geocachers.
So there it is in a nutshell. As far as what we’re still working on-making the units available to patrons which involves putting a barcode on the unit in a way that it can be removed easily. I met with IT yesterday and he’s on it so I anticipate it’ll happen this week.