“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” states Harry Potter in the book, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”
This may have been true for Harry, but it certainly wasn’t for five youth librarians who were up plenty of good this week during Johnson County Library’s Harry Potter celebration. Beginning in January, this team of extreme Harry Potter fans organized the week-long event dedicated to celebrating a literary milestone: the 20th anniversary of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the first book published in J.K. Rowling’s world-renowned series.
Throughout the week, various library locations were transformed into Hogwarts houses, starting on Monday with Ravenclaw House (better known as the Leawood branch). More than 600 people crowded the halls of Ravenclaw to practice witchcraft, wizardy and have fun.
“I knew the events were going to be popular,” said librarian and event organizer, Jennifer Mendez. “I just didn’t know they were going to be this popular.”
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The week’s capstone event, the Tri-Wizard Tournament, was held on Saturday at the Central Resource branch, where more than 400 costumed devotees and aficionados of all ages experienced the Potter magic. Hogwarts House classes, Quidditch matches, trivia and costume contests, and an array of arts-related projects were just a few of the tournament’s activities and events.
Youth Services Information Specialist and event organizer Megan Mascorro-Jackson read the Harry Potter books when they were first published and finds them irresistible.
“These books are about basic humanity but told with such flair and magic. We all want family, friends, and love — and this is why so many can relate to these stories,” she said. “Also, young people love the thought that they can save the world. It doesn’t have to be an adult. Teenagers can save the world.”
While constructing a Bowtruckles tree creature in the Hufflepuff House, Peter Martin, 16, shared some thoughts about why he loves the Potter books — and why he’s read the entire series twice.
“Those books helped me get through some hard times,” he said. “Harry’s life reminded me of my life. I read them at a time when his life was most similar to mine and they gave me some solace.”
In addition to the five youth librarians who planned Saturday’s celebration, many other staff members and volunteers contributed to the entire week’s wizardry, magic and happiness. For Saturday’s Tri-Wizard Tournament, the library’s MakerSpace staff created the Goblet of Fire and engineered the Quiddich hoops to stay upright through the rigors of tournament play. This team also set up the Hogwarts’ official Polaroid photo booth, and made sure the enchanted and clever Hogwarts’ Sorting Hat talked to all of its many wearers.
“Some people don’t love Harry Potter,” said Mascorro-Jackson. “I just don’t know them.”