Around April 1st, I begin to obsessively check the round-up articles at Washington Post and Time.com to see the latest April Fools’ Day pranks from many brands, websites, and newspapers (heck, Google even has it’s own Wikipedia page on April Fools pranks). Pranks like finding Waldo in Google Maps are adorable and fun, and many libraries also get in on the fun of April Fools’ Day. Librarians have a quirky sense of humor (or a cat-based sense of humor, in my case), so you’ll find some amazing pranks combined with actual learning opportunities if you visit a physical library or library website on April Fools’ Day.
Historic April Fools at Library of Congress
First, let’s take a look at the learning opportunities offered through the Library of Congress (LOC) website related to April Fools:
- Learn the history of April Fools’ Day: The article April Fools: The Roots of an International Tradition by Stephen Winick at the Folklife Today Blog gives a detailed and fascinating look at the many possible origins of April Fools traditions: “People have long speculated about the origins of this most foolish holiday, suggesting the Roman Saturnalia, Druidic rites in Britain, the carnivalesque medieval celebration of the Feast of Fools, and even the Indian festival of Holi as possible origins. ” You can even listen to a recording of an Irish folk song, “The First Day of April.”
- Explore April Fools in historic newspapers: The Library of Congress Blog links to ten articles about April Fools’ Day in its US historical newspaper database, Chronicling America. Check 10 Stories: April Fool! Chronicling America by John Sayers and explore the history (and sometimes terrifying illustrations) about April Fools’ Day in articles written between 1896 and 1920. The LOC website also offers a Topics in Chronicling America – April Fools’ Day page, with search suggestions for finding articles on the topic and links to sample articles.
The American Libraries site has a delightful series of articles about April Fools pranks at libraries around the world. Each year in early April, Greg Landgraf summarizes the best library pranks. Here are a few of my favorites:
- From April Foolswatch 2017: “Using just the tools in its makerspace, Hillsboro (Oreg.) Public Library created a self-tattooing kit for patrons to check out.”
- From April Foolswatch 2016: “Davenport (Iowa) Public Library launched a drone delivery system for library materials.“
- From April Foolswatch 2015: Sacramento (Calif.) Public Library “announced that the Library of Things had evolved into a new Library of Cats.”
I’m just hoping that the Library of Cats idea actually catches on eventually.