Dragons, elves and hobbits, oh my — Way staff promotes library usage

PERRYSBURG — Hobbits, wizards, elves and a dragon Smaug greeted friends of Way Public Library on Tuesday,
marking the birthday of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins with Hobbit Day to promote Library Card Signup Month.

The topic was chosen because of the popularity of the books, but also because Sept. 22 is mentioned in
the books as Bilbo’s birthday. Monday was the 83rd anniversary of publication of “The Hobbit,” the first
book in the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy books on Middle Earth featuring the little Hobbits Bilbo and Frodo
Baggins.
The event was a pleasant surprise for one pair of kids.
Having ridden their bikes to the library, 8-year-old Molly Wolff and her 10-year-old brother James were
thrilled to find out about the celebration.
“I like Smaug and Gollum,” said Molly.
They are both fans who have read the book and seen the movies.
“I like Smaug especially. I don’t know why but I really like the dragon,” said James.
Library staff use the slogan “The One Card to Read Them All,” telling the kids that it ís no fun to be
caught without a library card anytime, much less during a pandemic.
Both adults and children showed up in costume. They have been receiving a complimentary Hobbit’s “Second
Breakfast.” The “lembas bread” came in a strikingly familiar silver foil package that some of the kids
might recognize — strangely reminiscent of Pop-Tarts.
Most of the library staff dressed up for the occasion.
Gandalf the wizard was played by programming specialist Natalie Dielman. She had a beard, but wore it
only when kids were around. It turns out that it’s hard to breathe through a mask, with a beard held on
over it, but she had fun anyway.
“I like seeing families coming in. We’ve had several families come in and the grown-ups seemed to be
introducing the kids to “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Hobbit” and the whole Middle Earth universe,”
Dielman said.
Smaug, the dragon, was played by Adam Marier.
“I’m a technology specialist, and part-time dragon,” Marier said. “It’s sort of nice to do something a
little unusual and maybe a bit silly. It’s nice to draw the attention, but it’s also nice to shake
things up.”
His costume extended the dragon’s head more than a foot above his real head using the same fan that
pumped air to inflate the large body.
“We’ve had a lot of staff members channeling their inner Hobbit,” said Rose Mills, the library public
relations specialist. “This has been a fun diversion and it is literary. So hopefully we have found some
new fans for ‘Lord of the Rings.’”
Library cards are free at Way Library and Mills escorted patrons around the various displays, touting the
benefits of the library.
It also provides access to hundreds of thousands of books, audio-books, and eBooks, as well as Playaways,
music CDs, DVDs, video games, newspapers, and magazines. At Way Library, a card holder can check out any
of hundreds of items from the cake pan and Beyond Books collections. Beyond Books includes a wide
variety of unusual items—from giant outdoor games to telescopes, musical instruments, metal detectors
and many other items.
Mills has also been stressing that once the various Tolkien books have been read and the movies watched
there are many other fantasy fiction worlds to discover and she the staff had suggestions.
Fantasy books for children:
“The Wingfeather Saga” by Andrew Peterson
“The Wilderking Trilogy” a series by Jonathan Rogers
“Tuesdays at the Castle” series by Jessica George Day
Fantasy books aimed at adults:
“Game of Thrones” series by George R.R. Martin
“The Witcher” series by Andrzej Sapkowski
“The Farseer Trilogy” by Robin Hobb
All the staff highly recommended “Piranesi,” the follow-up to “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell,” by
Susanna Clarke.