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Host a Film Screening & Discussion Program

Building a robust film program in a library or media center takes planning and effort, but can lead to valuable community connections and ongoing collaborations.


For many, viewing media on a screen is the first step into entering the world of imagination and possibility. Film viewing is an emotionally stimulating and meaningful experience where people get to learn about themselves and the world around them through stories that activate the head, heart, and spirit.


IN CHAPTER 2, we show how the social act of sharing responses to audiovisual media builds reflective and critical competencies needed for life in an image-saturated society. Toddlers can learn vital media literacy skills with the same skillful facilitation children’s librarians use in exploring picture books during story time. For learners of all ages, it’s a way into rich teaching and learning opportunities. For parents and elders, audiovisual media can spark deep discussions about community concerns and inspire civic action. 

Best Practices of Film Screening 


Seeing a film in a library can be a meaningful experience for patrons. Are you putting enough into your film programming efforts to engage and motivate them to participate?

Planning and Marketing

  • Read reviews, view films, write reviews, and create lists of possible films for a screening.

  • Give your film program a catchy, memorable name.

  • Use themes to group films together into a series.

  • Select at least one box-office film that audiences will want to attend.

  • Pair it with thematically linked less-known independent, alternative, or documentary films.

  • Place announcements in local newspapers and online communities.

  • Use social media marketing to raise awareness.

  • Create take-away flyers and post them at entrances and exits. 


  • Use theater-style seating with a center aisle and place additional chairs against the back wall for latecomers.

  • Use a late-model data projector and external speakers for the best sound possible.

  • Darken room appropriately.

  • Test equipment, lighting, and sound before the event.

  • Use closed captioning to enable full access to film content by all viewers.

  • Have a sign-up sheet for attendees who wish to provide email for future contact.

Learn more about other best practices of film screening and discussion programs in libraries: 


Hobbs, R., Deslauriers, L. & Steager, P. (2019). The Library Screen Scene: Film and Media Literacy in Schools, Colleges and Communities. New York: Oxford University Press.

In a joint project with the Latina Women’s League and the Alachua County Library in Gainesville, Florida, partners organized a 5-week film festival for Hispanic Heritage Month on Saturday afternoons.


According to Travis Fristoe, who works in the Adult Services Department of the Alachua County Library, “People showed up early and stayed late.” This event also helped raise awareness of the resources the library is able to offer. A few people were not aware of our foreign language section, for example.” 

Making Cultural 


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