MAHOMET — The air was thick with tension and not just quiet as patrons read books or used computers at the Mahomet Public Library on June 28. And then ...
A cheer went up and sighs of relief were exhaled: “We did it!”
With the help of around 100 volunteers, young and old, the library staff set up and let fall the longest domino line of books in the state of Illinois — with a crowd packed into the facility watching 1,165 books tip end-to-end, curled in a line in one direction around the library and back again. The previous record set at the Farmington Public Library was broken.
“This was awesome!” said Kathryn Barnhill, a member of Mahomet Christian Church who attended the activity and helped with the event as part of her congregation being active in the community at large. “Whenever we did that first section, each of us filling in our numbers, I got super nervous. And then whenever we filled in our actual stop-gap (sections), I got really nervous, and then all that went away whenever it started falling.
“Our section had four falls before the start,” she added.
To start with, between library staff and volunteers, pieces of tape were put on the floor of the library to indicate where the long line of books would wind its away through the stacks and past the computers, starting and ending in the Edgar Room. More than 1,000 books were pulled from shelves — and not just any books, but thicker hardbacks that were more likely to stand on their own well. Before the line was set up, youngsters and adults alike were instructed on how to set up the books and what space to leave between them for the hoped-for result.
Victoria Egeberg, 12, of Mahomet volunteered to help with the effort.
“It was really fun. We were in section 3, so we had to do the curve, and we had to put them at the right angle,” she explained. “I was worried they were going to fall over a few times, and we had a few wobbly books but we just put them aside and then we used the sturdy ones.
“I come to the library a lot but this sounded like fun, so I wanted to come for this too,” Egeberg added.
Her friend, Laura McNaught, 14, also had a good time with the activity.
“It was kind of freaky because I was afraid of them knocking over (early),” McNaught said.
Director John Howard, like many in the library, was flushed with excitement when the feat was accomplished.
“We are really excited. It went flawlessly. The kids followed instructions, worked as a team. It was an amazing day,” he said.
A YouTube video from the Seattle Public Library that Howard saw a couple of years ago sparked the idea for the event. He said the world record for a book domino line is around 7,000 books.
“It was something that I thought the kids would remember 20, 30, 40 years down the line being involved with it,” he said. “That’s the thing that I think I love the best about this: It’s just a memorable, fun thing for them to think about that they did at the public library.”
That thought seemed to have been successsful.
“It was actually a lot more exciting than I thought it would be,” said volunteer Cassidy Waldrep, 18. “It worked very, very well and we didn’t have any mishaps, especially my section, which was very exciting because I was a little scared that my section would be the one to fail, but it went very well.
“Yeah, a little nerve-wracking,” she said of the experience, “especially when you see it coming your way and you’re like, ‘Are the books going to stay up? Is the curve going to work?’ But it all worked out and that was exciting.”
Waldrep volunteers at the library every Monday with youngsters and answered Howard’s call for volunteers for the book domino line, too.
After the event, big smiles were evident on many faces — especially Howard’s.
“I’d like to reassure the public that no books were harmed in the making of this book domino chain,” he said with a laugh.