Between November 6th 2023 and December 8th 2023 the operational team (Sarah, Louisa, Deirdre, Georgia, Sarah Jane and Niamh) at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals library ran our annual festive hamper competition.

To enter people had to be a member of the library, borrow a book from our fiction or well-being collections between the specified dates and submit a review of the book borrowed. People could submit a paper review – we handed these out when they joined – or they could email them in.

As well as advertising the competition in the library we also used social media, the Trust newsletter, posters on the back of toilet doors, promoting it at Charters restaurant at Preston hospital where we have a stand every Wednesday for an hour over lunch, and also telling people about it in inductions that coincided with the competition.

The hamper was created through library staff donations. We also had a lot of promotion freebies from various companies hanging around so we made goodie bags from these bits and everyone who entered got a bag. Luckily, we had just enough bags to go around for everyone who entered!

Following the competition, we sent a survey out to gauge people’s thoughts, and we received some really positive feedback.

We asked why they had entered the competition and most people said they loved reading, and the prize was a good one. We thought the goody bag for every entrant would be a reason, but nobody mentioned this! We know the goody bag was popular however as people were thrilled to receive something for free.

We had about 50% of entrants submit a review so we asked those that didn’t submit a review, why. The main reason was time. This is always the reason people give but how long should we give them to read a book? 5 weeks is a good amount of time I would say but of course if you join the competition the day before it closes then time would be an issue! Maybe something to think about for next year?

The best bit of impact we got from the survey was how the competition had helped people’s wellbeing. We asked if the competition had done any of the following:

When we started the project, our aims were to increase fiction, well-being book issues (we issued 67 books for the competition) and increase new members (we got 17). We certainly achieved our aims but what I wasn’t expecting was the positive effect it had on people’s wellbeing. Helping people de-stress and allowing them to take a minute for themselves, particularly in the current NHS climate, are hugely important and it was nice to see this competition helped them do that.

In total we had 61 people enter the competition and 17 of these were new joiners. 35 reviews were submitted, and the winner was pulled out of a hat. Our lovely OT lead, Anne, was the worthy winner.

Even though this was a success there would still be things that we would do differently next year.

Comments about running out of time makes us think do we run the competition for longer? Do we give them 4 weeks after joining to submit their review, so it isn’t penalising those that join later?

How do we get the message to people who are not already library members? Even though we had 17 new joiners we want to reach more people who don’t come into the library or even know about the library. A perennial problem all libraries have – how to reach staff that don’t know you exist?

Do we need to ‘bribe’ people with a goody bag. Nobody said the reason they joined was to get the goody bag so maybe next year we offer a runner up prize instead or maybe just a pen would suffice.


Sarah Woodhall

Library Operations Manager

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals