PATERSON, NJ - September was National Library Card Sign-up month and folks at the city's public library took the occasion seriously.

Instead of simply posting fliers urging people to get cards, the city library officials did more than that: they invited new registrants and card-holders who recruited new registrants to enter a raffle for a DVD and gave them coupons for library-related services.

The results left the staff overjoyed: 510 people signed up for library cards. That's a 26 percent increase compared to a typical monthly registration of 403, officials said. Now the city library has about 33,500 cardholders.

Sign Up for E-News

"This year, we decided to actually promote it,'' said Library Director Cindy Czesak, referring to the month-long registration push. "The staff came up with the idea of a raffle.''

Among the coupons a half off a future fine ("Let’s face it – everyone gets a fine at some point or another,'' said Czesak) and extended loans on DVDs.

 "We sent [fliers] to the schools and I e-mailed them to other organizations and agencies in town,'' said CZesak "Any of our staff who went out to visit a school or represent the library at an event brought copies with them to distribute.  And, we rely heavily on work of mouth promotion.  The staff talked it up to people in the library; that’s one of the reasons we included an option for existing card-holders to enter the raffle if they brought in a new person,a referral bonus, if you will.''

The winner of the DVD raffle was 10-year-old Shanik Blanco, a student at Martin Luther King, Jr. School, #30,  who signed up for her card in the Children's Department of the Main Library.