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But Wait, There's More!: Battle of the Books

A guide to special collections and programs in the North Country Library System.

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The Books!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Battle of the Books?

The North Country Battle of the Books is a book trivia program coordinated by public and school libraries in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties for students in grades 4-6. Book Battle programs are competitions similar to Jeopardy or whiz quiz games but questions come from a controlled list of books that participants read in preparation for the matches. 

2. What’s my role? 

Public library staff and volunteers are responsible for planning, promoting, and implementing local battles and are encouraged to partner with school library staff. When a local public library is not able to participate, the school library may coordinate the local battle in place of the public library. Here’s a quick breakdown of the roles:

Battle Coordinator: The Battle Coordinator organizes and promotes the local battle, registers teams, and serves as the primary point of contact for the NCLS Youth Services Consultant. This is usually a staff member of the public library.

Battle Partner: Battle Partners work with the Battle Coordinator to organize and promote the local battle. These are usually school library staff or other teachers. 

Battle Volunteer: An adult or teen who helps run the program on the day of the event. Battle Volunteers can set up the room, read questions, keep score, etc. 

Team Coach: An adult who helps prepare the team for the local and regional battle. 

3. Who can be on a team?

Teams are made up of 3-4 students from grades 4-6. Team members can be from the same grade or mixed grades, classes, scout troop, homeschool group, etc. All team members should be active participants and be aware that they are signed up on a team. Once a team has been formed and officially registers at the library, changes cannot be made. Teams may not assign alternate players.

4. Who is responsible for the team?

The Team Coach is responsible for helping the team prepare for the battle. The Team Coach also serves as a contact person for the team and will receive all relevant program information from the Battle Coordinator. A coaching guide is included in this toolkit. A parent or other adult can serve as team coach, but it is up to the students to make sure that they read the books on the list. A team captain is also necessary for each team, since only one student can give the answers during the actual match. 

5. When should I start planning?

A general timeline is included in this toolkit. Typically, promotion begins in the fall, is intensified during the winter, and the local battles and regional battle take place in spring.

6. How are books selected for the book list?

Books are chosen by the committee members in the spring, prior to the end of the school year. Considerations when selecting titles for the list include reading level, popularity/appeal, diversity, awards received, promotion of excellent titles that may not be well known, the number of available copies of each title in the NCLS catalog, and availability of paperback, e-book, or audio copies. 

7. Will there be enough copies of the titles to go around?

Public and school libraries are encouraged to add the books on the list to their collections. Every effort will be made on the part of the library system to acquire e-books and e-audio, when available. 

8. How are local battles structured?

  • Each match lasts approximately 15-30 minutes and contains 20 questions (10 per team, alternating).

  • A coin toss determines which team goes first. The teams sit facing the question reader; the team that wins the coin toss will sit so that they are at the question reader’s left. (This makes for easier scorekeeping.) 

  • Each team has 20 seconds to answer questions directed to them.

  • Questions are all in the same format – “In what book...?”

  • Answers are always in the form of the title and author of the book. The correct title is worth 5 points, and the author’s full name is worth 3 points for a maximum of 8 points per question. 

  • If an answer or partial answer cannot be given by a team, the other team has five seconds to answer and get the remaining points for that question.

For more information on the way battles are structured, see the Rules of Play. 

**Special note: Local battles should mirror the regional battle structure, so that teams going on to compete in that event are as prepared as possible. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact the NCLS Youth Services Consultant. 

9. What will I need on the day of my local battle?

  • A scorekeeper (with score sheets), timekeeper (with stopwatch), and a question reader. The question reader may also keep the time.

  • 20 questions for each match. These questions will be provided by NCLS and sent via the delivery vans to the public library. In cases where the public library is not involved, the questions will be sent to the school library.

For more information, see Pre-Game Checklist for Libraries.

10. I only have one team representing my library. What do I do? 

In small communities, it’s not uncommon for a library to have only one team participating in the Battle of the Books. In that event, you may decide not to hold a local battle and to simply use the local questions for practice. You may also decide to partner with a nearby library and have your team compete with theirs on the local level. In this situation, both teams go on to represent their libraries in the regional battle. 

**Special note: Local questions must never be given to teams or coaches. The Battle Coordinator is responsible for maintaining the security of the local questions. After the local battle has occurred, the winning team may use the remaining questions to practice for the regional battle.

11. Am I supposed to offer prizes?

Prizes are not required, but are encouraged. Each participating library can determine local prizes, such as gift cards to bookstores, etc. Friends groups may be willing to supply the money for these prizes. 

12. What about prizes for the Regional Battle?

Libraries competing against each other in the Regional Battle will be competing for the Book Battle Champions trophy. The winning library will get to display this trophy in their home library until the next regional meet is held. Each member of the first, second, and third place teams will receive a medal on a ribbon. All participants in the Regional Battle will receive a paperback book.

Library and School RSVP

Ready to sign up your school or library as a participating site? Fill out this form!

Individual teams and student names do not need to be submitted yet, but it's time to start recruiting coaches and volunteers and deciding who the coordinator for your site will be!

Participating Libraries and Schools!

Flower Memorial Library

Alexandria Central School

MacSherry Library

General Brown

Beaver River

Gouverneur Central School

Canton Central, Banford and Middle School

Jefferson Elementary (Massena Central School District)

Hepburn Library of Waddington

Madrid-Waddington Hepburn Library of Madrid

Canton Free Library

South Lewis Central School