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Biennial Event a Big (Little) Draw: Doodle Day at the Bettendorf Public Library, October 21 PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Local News
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 17 October 2006 22:36

Seen by themselves, the images aren't all that special: A race car. A big apple. The likeness of Bart Simpson.

But then you see the signatures next to the images.

The race car was drawn by Mario Andretti. The big apple by the Big Apple's Donald Trump. And Bart Simpson? By Bart Simpson him/herself - Nancy Cartwright.

These are just three of more than 100 celebrity scribblings available through live and silent auction during the Bettendorf Public Library's biennial Doodle Day event, taking place at the library from 6 to 9 p.m. on October 21. For the fifth time since 1998, Doodle Day offers patrons the chance to own - for a minimum bid of $25 - what library Director Faye Clow calls "an original little artwork" from luminaries in entertainment, sports, and literature, the proceeds from which benefit library programming.

"There are just tons of programs that we wouldn't be able to do without Doodle Day," says Clow. "It's one of those ‘big deals' that's fun."

Clow reveals that the idea for Doodle Day began in 1997. "Scott Tunnicliff, who is president of our chamber of commerce, dropped in my office one day," she says, "and he told me about a theatre group that did this [the auctioning of celebrity doodles]. He said, ‘You know, we oughta do this in town. It would be so much fun to own a doodle by somebody I liked.' And I said, ‘Well, don't tell anybody else about this,'" she says with a laugh. "We'll do it."

Then as now, says Bettendorf Public Library Executive Director Todd Klein, volunteers were recruited for the tasks of determining which celebrities would be solicited, putting together information packets explaining the event's purpose, and locating celebrity addresses (or, more frequently, the addresses of celebrity agencies) - an enormous undertaking. "It takes about 20 volunteers," Klein says, "serving on about six different subcommittees."

"We do a lot of Internet research, and it takes a lot of work to recruit all the doodles," says Clow. "The post office loves us."

Yet while the program is hard on the volunteers, the library has made the process incredibly simple for the celebrities. Clow says, "The information pack talks about how the program benefits the library, and who has done doodles in the past, and so we send them that along with a doodle form and a return envelope. And they doodle and send it back." Thus far, Doodle Day has averaged what Clow calls "about a 20-percent return" on packets sent.

(Asked if there are any celebrities whose doodles the library has actively sought to no avail, Klein says, "Oh, yeah. Hundreds," including residents of the White House, who receive a Doodle Day request every two years. "There's some law - they quote it when they send me back the letter each year - that they can't do any type of contributions for solicitation purposes," Klein says.)

Since its inception, the Doodle Day event has seen, says Clow, "several hundred people" biennially. "It draws a unique group of people," she says, "because people who support the library come, and then people who are interested in a specific doodler will come. Last time we had Clay Aiken, who was on American Idol, and many members of his fan club either came or sent in proxy bids."

The Aiken fan club was certainly responsible for part of Doodle Day's 2004 intake of $27,000 for the Bettendorf Public Library, and Clow adds that, while most final bids range from $50 to the low hundreds, truly exorbitant bids - depending on the celebrity - aren't unusual.

"Our first Doodle Day," she says, "we had a doodle by Charles Schulz of Peanuts, and that was the big draw that year. But the highest doodle, I think, in our history was one by Sir Edmund Hillary, who climbed Mt. Everest," which Clow says "went for around $3,500, $3,700," despite the climber's elementary art skills.

"It was not wonderful," laughs Clow at the memory of Hillary's drawing. "It was a stick-man kind of doodle on top of a mountain. But he signed it, and so it was really highly valued."

With a list of celebrity doodlers that includes Barbra Streisand, Al Pacino, Sarah Jessica Parker, John Travolta, Barbara Mandrell, Whoopi Goldberg, Evel Knievel, Lee Iacocca, and Yoko Ono - Clow, putting it mildly, calls the roster "a lot of big names" - Klein and the library's director expect this year's event to be the library's most successful Doodle Day fundraiser yet, and already have their sights set on personal favorite doodles. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both are of a literary bent.

Klein particularly likes the contribution of Norman Bridwell, author of the popular Clifford the Big Red Dog series. "I think his doodle's very unique," says Klein. "It's called ‘Clifford Grows Old.' It's a one-of-a-kind. ... I don't think you've probably ever seen Clifford drawn that way before."

As for Clow, she favors the entry by author Lois Lowry, which she calls "a personal favorite of mine. It's a wonderful picture of a child reading. And that's what we're all about."


For more information on Doodle Day - including images of more than 100 celebrity doodles available - visit (

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