Madden meets the library

Fines must be way down at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. Why the heck else would they be hosting a month-long, countywide Madden tournament? The library's Carla Davis calls it a "re-branding effort" to entice the teens (though all ages can register). "Kids love the library until age 10, then there's a sharp drop-off," she says. "They stop coming. And stop reading. We're losing them through their formative years." Not that sifting through playbooks and reading defenses is any substitute for Hunter Thompson and Hemingway, but loaning CDs and DVDs and opening computer labs just hasn't been enough to lure Timmy and Becky away from the mall. "Think of the old stereotype of a library and a librarian," says Davis. "A fat, old frumpy lady going 'Sshhh!'" It goes like this: For the first three weeks of January "qualifying rounds" will be held at each of the library's sixteen branches. Two finalists from each branch will earn invites to the finals, held at the main branch on the 27th. There, on the library's twenty-foot screen, they'll slug it out at noon until a winner is crowned. The champ gets a Best Buy gift card and a pizza party, but everybody's a winner, really: They won't have to lie to Mom and Pop about where they spent their day. After music, movies and the Internet, says Davis, this is really the next logical step. "If the library is going to be a center for culture," she asks, "shouldn't that also include pop culture?" Stay tuned: Next up could be a Battle of the Bands. "That will really send some people over the edge," she says. Frumpies, beware! For info: 330-643-9000. -- Jason Nedley
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