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'Book Bingo' encourages adults to read

Atlanta resident, Daria Ross, began to get frustrated with square "R-7" on her Bingo card, after going several rounds without it being called.

All she needed was that one square, and she would be able to exclaim, "Bingo!" and go up and claim a prize, during a contest at the Clayton County Library System's headquarters branch, on Thursday.

"If you've got an ‘R-7,' I'll take it," Ross told branch Managing Librarian Sherry Turner, who was the caller drawing numbers for the game.

Alas, round after round went by, and Turner did not pull "R-7" out of a box of numbers. Finally, Ross decided she had had enough of waiting on "R-7," and traded out her two Bingo cards for new ones.

But, Ross' bad luck with the number continued. On the first draw of the next round, Turner pulled "R-7" out of her box.

"Now it gets called!" exclaimed Ross, as she threw her hands in the air.

Ross was one of a dozen "Book Bingo" participants at the headquarters library, where the prizes included books, coupons for local restaurants, and "Beanie Babies" dolls.

Turner said the purpose behind playing the game was to promote reading among adults this summer. She said it is just one of several adult-oriented activities the library is hosting to promote literacy. Previous activities have included classes on fly-fishing, resume-building and making stained glass jewelry and frames. Future events include baking and "Jazzercise" classes, she added. She said the topics are picked, based on what people ask about, or what library officials think people might be interested in.

Turner said she felt Bingo had universal appeal, which is why she scheduled the game.

"There's always an interest for Bingo," she said. "No matter what community I've been in, people have always enjoyed playing Bingo. It's an easy game to play. Everybody seems to know the rules already, and can just sit down and start playing."

During each round of the game, contestants had to get Bingo in different formations. The formations included a "postage stamp," a "picture frame," an "H," a "T," diagonal, and straight across formations. In one round, they even had to have all of the numbers on at least one of their cards called, to get Bingo.

Jonesboro resident, Chantel Watkins, who brought Daria Ross to the competition, said she thought "Book Bingo" was a good idea, because it gave people an indoors activity to do on a day when the temperatures outside were pushing 100 degrees. She also won three prizes, all books.

"I thought it was fun," Watkins said. "It was free and something different to do, which I thought was interesting."

Semela Wallace, of Atlanta, said the competition was "great." Wallace, like Watkins, said she heard about it through a promotional flyer she saw during a previous trip to the library. Wallace said she's been going to the library regularly to look through its employment resources.

"I like activities like this because I am able to balance looking for a job, and being able to get my mind off my search from time to time," she said.

And, while "Book Bingo," was intended to be a one-time summer activity, Turner is not ruling out the possibility of doing it again in the future. "People seemed to enjoy it, so we'll probably do it again sometime," she said. "I think during National Library Week, in the spring, would be a good time to do it again."

Turner said anyone who would like more information about upcoming adult-oriented events at Clayton County libraries, can go to the library system's web site, www.claytonpl.org/ to find a calendar of events.