Amid the hushed voices and page-flipping in Mossey Library, students passing by a white board covered in different handwriting stop and read the answers to the question, “What is the hardest choice in the 1st round of Mossey Madness?” The board gave them a choice: participate or laugh and keep walking.
The board is an indicator of the library’s fourth annual tournament of Mossey Madness, a friendly competition based off the NCAA’s March Madness. Its creator, Public Services Librarian Brenna Wade, said she wanted to bring in the March Madness fun with a twist – literature competitions.
“March Madness is the basketball tournament, and people fill out their brackets ahead of time, trying to guess which team is going to win the whole thing,” Wade said. “It’s a really big deal. We play off of that with library-type things.”
When Mossey Madness at the Mossey Library was conceived as an idea four years ago, Wade had no idea what she was doing.
“I’d seen someone do a book bracket before and I thought it was interesting,” she said. “It had kind of come up amongst some of our student workers that it was something worth pursuing but we just weren’t sure how we were going to do it because it’s kind of involved.”
Once the college subscribed to the qualtric server software, Wade knew that she could pull it off. She began sending out the link that would direct participants to the voting site and began receiving support.
“They told me, ‘Oh start small, don’t do a full bracket, it’s going to be way too hard,’” Wade said. “And I was like, I can’t! I do it all the way or not at all.”
The small event ended up being popular among Hillsdale students, and it has evolved over the years in efficiency, creativity, and participation.
Elyssa Warren, a sophomore and two-year participant in the event, said, “I like it. It’s kind of fun. It’s also really funny to see what people vote for.”
The literature topic changes each year. In the first year, books were pitted against each other, and in the second year, it was authors. Last year, Wade pitted plays against movies, and this year, it is protagonists versus antagonists. The brackets this year were submitted by March 2, and the second voting deadline was Wednesday. There are six rounds, and brackets will be declared on April 4.
The most memorable year that Wade could recall was the author’s year in 2016.
“William Wordsworth beat out William Shakespeare,” she said with a laugh, “and I was really upset. Wordsworth is fine, but I mean, it’s Wordsworth. He’s just not that great.”
So far, Mossey Madness has been a success as well as an opportunity to take a break from studying and voice opinions about who should win out on the first round of the protagonists — Aslan or Gandalf? It has gotten the students more involved in the library as well.
“It’s really fun as someone who works at the library,” said senior Therese Burgess, “just to see people get excited about books and about being in the library.”
Wade agreed, saying that the first year was the most difficult.
“It’s hard,” she said. “It’s always going to be hard. But that’s what makes it fun.”