The Riverside Public Library was recently rewarded for the innovative programming surrounding its “Batoberfest” event last year. The Illinois Library Association announced earlier this month that the library was receiving the Highsmith Library Innovative Award for “planning an innovative or creative program or service, which has had measurable impact on its users.” Innovative and creative it was!

It was October 2008 when the Riverside Public Library went batty. The village itself was lousy with bats – they were hanging from the rafters of the quaint library building, Aunt Diana’s Fudge Shop made edible bats, and they were even projected onto the historic water tower.

Now before you wonder who they called as an exterminator, I should clarify that the bat invasion was a promotion for the book Bats in the Library by Brian Lies, a member of the Lies family, longtime Riverside residents.

Lies, now a resident of Massachusetts, was fascinated by the Riverside Library and spent hours there drawing spaces and furnishings, hoping to use the illustrations for his children’s book.

Following the publication of the book, he came back for a book signing. The promotional campaign included family-oriented programming at the library to promote not only the book, but reading in general. The success of the bat promo was recognized by the Illinois Library Association.

Library Director Janice Fisher and some staff members will be attending the award ceremony on Oct. 8 at the Illinois Library Association annual conference in Peoria. Included in the award is a monetary gift.

The enthusiasm for the award by Fisher and her staff could shake the bats from the rafters (if they were there). “The book is us and we will be forever in the book,” Fisher said. “It was truly a bat love fest.”

The enthusiasm for the book continues, with Fisher planning to celebrate the award by taking pictures of business owners, Chamber of Commerce members and village officials reading the book to create an album of bat book readers.

Copies of the book, published by Houghton Mifflin, are available for purchase at the Riverside Public Library for $15. Next time you visit, check out not only a book for a child or yourself, but the lovely building that became an inspiration for a book.