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San Diego Children's Book Festival

San Diego Public Library
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Problem Statement

The San Diego Public Library, in partnership with the San Diego Public Library Foundation, the Park and Recreation Department and the Friends of the San Diego Public Library, decided to bring together the nation’s top children’s authors and illustrators for the first ever San Diego Children’s Book Festival. This free daylong event to celebrate kids and reading was held at the City’s newest joint-use facility, the Nobel Athletic Complex and North University Community Branch Library. The target audience was family members of all ages including tots, children, teens and parents. Putting on this event was a tall order with limited financial and staffing resources and no track record for hosting a citywide event on this scale.


The outreach effort to promote this event was key to its success. It included: 1.) Media partners - 400+ Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on Time Warner Cable, KPBS public radio PSAs, Westfield Mall sponsored radio PSAs on KYXY family-oriented radio, and KUSI television appearance by author, Kadir Nelson the morning of the event; 2.) Promotional Partner Distribution of Promotional Materials – more than 10,000 postcards, flyers and posters were distributed by public and private schools, the Council on Literacy, Bookseller store promotions, inserts in partner organization newsletters, Westfield Mall pre-event hosting of a puppet show, based on the work of author Gerald McDermott along with mall distribution of event flyers; 3.) General Publicity – Banners were posted at five of the largest libraries, posters and flyers were distributed at all 35 branch libraries and 50 recreation centers, flyers were placed in grocery bags at 10 grocery stories in the area, there was a window display at Central Library, there were calendar announcements in local publications, media releases and media advisories were sent to 70 media outlets in the region; 4.) Email Publicity – email blasts were sent to Library, Foundation and Friends databases, and there was a distribution to business partner employees including Qualcomm, Target, and Biogen Idec.


In 2008, the first year of the event, 14 nationally-recognized authors and illustrators participated, with an additional 20 local authors. Three book stores sold books and there were several major corporate sponsors including nearby Westfield mall. There were more than 5,000 attendees from throughout the region, 50 vendors, 150 volunteers, six corporate sponsors that provided $23,500 in underwriting along with $5,000 in in-kind support and the book sellers reported strong sales with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Library.

Second Annual Festival in 2009 built on the success of the previous year and drew 15 top authors and illustrators, 50 vendors and over 7,000 participants.