2009 Helen C. House Party

On Thursday, September 10, College Library held the first ever Helen C. House Party. Created to celebrate the start of the school year and welcome new students to the library, the Helen C. House Party was a great success with over 1000 students stopping by between 7 and 11 pm. The library remained open for normal business during the party (and some students continued studying throughout the party chaos), but the majority of staff and patrons were on hand to partake of the free food and fun.

Almost every area of College Library was transformed for the party. The courtyard became a small carnival with free coffee, cotton candy, and balloon art. Staff were delighted to introduce cotton candy to a number of international students had never before seen or tasted it. The festive mood of the party was definitely enhanced by the artistry of Lochlan Masters who not only created a balloon sculpture of an airplane, but spent two hours in the courtyard creating one-of-a-kind balloons hats and/or belts for attendees. In addition to Viking, alien, and crocodile hats, a number of party-goers sported more organic fare – trees, flowers, etc. The courtyard activites also included the popular pick-a-duck game (those selecting the lucky #8 received a full-size Hershey’s candy bar while everyone else “won” a Hershey’s kiss), a coffee cart, and music from WSUM (the student radio station). While there, students could peruse the big board listing all of the house party activities and plan accordingly.

Once inside the library, the free food was a popular attraction and the library owes a big thanks to: Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Gumby’s Pizza, Ian’s Pizza, Rocky Rococo, and Milio’s. Within the first 20 minutes of the party, over 35 pizzas were consumed, or more aptly, inhaled. Dozens of students also stood in line to have their future foretold by a librarian doubling as a palm-reader. Needless to say, everyone’s future is bright. In Room 1250 the library showcased video games from its collection, including the newly released Beatles Rock Band on PlayStation 3, NCAA Football on XBox and Mario Kart and Boom Blox on Wii. One student noted, “This is perfect, we can play Wii and STILL get to sing Beatles songs.” The sorority Delta Sigma Theta also performed a step dance to the delight of many attendees.

The second floor featured a Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament. The eventual winner, Hesam Fadaifar, was able to select and reserve a study table at College Library (4 hours per week for the entire semester) as his grand prize. Also on the second floor, students had the opportunity to try an augmented reality game created by the campus group ARIS. Titled “Bibliodefenders,” students used iPhones to locate and eliminate rogue volumes – all before an opposing team thwarted their efforts. Photographs of winning teams were taken and will be transformed into READ posters and displayed in the library. Rounding out the second floor activities was a dance party in Room 2191 featuring tunes selected by Chris Lay, former student assistant at College Library and deejay extraordinaire.

On the library’s third floor students were able to catch a viewing of the movie Iron Man (while enjoying free popcorn), play ninja tag in the dark and get crafty by decorating tote bags and making friendship bracelets. According to a staff member, “At the end of the night we were beginning to clean up the arts-and-crafts area and one table of people said we need to do this every week, although another qualified it by saying, ‘Well, okay, maybe it’s too much work, but at least every other week.'” Ninja tag, a combination of capture-the-flag and flag football played in the dark with only a stobe light for illumination, also proved popular. Although the house party ended at 11 p.m., players were overhead to say, at 10:52 p.m., “We have eight more minutes, come on, we can do one more game!”

The Helen C. House Party was sponsored by the Center for the First Year Experience at UW-Madison and listed as an official Wisconsin Welcome event.

The party was set up and staffed by a team of librarians and student assistants. Everyone involved had a great time and we’re already excited to begin planning for next year.

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