Patrons of a Harford County library branch may have noticed some suspicious characters hanging around lately, but they are not the kind one would file a police report over.
Elected officials, county employees and a business leader are plastered on posters all across the library system's 11 branches, in disguise as characters from the "whodunit" game Clue.
The library made the posters, as well as a promotional video available on its website, to spotlight its 9th annual gala.
The gala is taking place Nov. 2 at the Abingdon branch and is expected to again raise about $100,000 for the library foundation, as the library system's biggest fundraiser, Mary Hastler, the library director, said.
As for the concept, "Clue was my favorite childhood game," Hastler explained.
She noted the library could not actually use the word "Clue" for copyright reasons, and the event is called "It Happened in the Library."
Getting the government officials to participate was not too hard, either, she said.
"My husband said, '[County Executive] David Craig would make a perfect Col. Mustard,'" Hastler said, adding it took off from there. "Everyone was a really good sport about it."
The video was filmed by production company Suited Four in April, on an unseasonably hot day that was the only day all the officials could get together, Hastler said. It can be seen on hcplonline.org.
One scene shows Hastler reading "Fifty Shades of Red," an apparent parody of the controversial novel "Fifty Shades of Grey."
The library director said it was not a reference to a minor controversy she was in last year, when she refused to purchase "Fifty Shades of Grey" for the library system.
Hastler said her marketing crew just picked it out because it matched her red dress.
"I didn't realize what was on the cover," she said. "It was just fun."
Tickets have been selling well for the gala even though they do not officially go on sale until September, Hastler said. Tickets cost $100 each, or $90 before Oct. 4, and can be bought at http://www.eveninginthestacks.org.
For the past two years, the gala has sold out with 600 attendees, library foundation director Amber Shrodes said.
"We have been thrilled with the response from the community and are happy to report we have already sold over 300 tickets to the event," Shrodes said via e-mail. "Typically we do not make tickets available until after Labor Day, and the invitations haven't even gone out yet."
(Disclaimer: The Aegis is one of the sponsors.)
"Last year, we used Gala funds to launch Little Leapers, an early literacy initiative which recently won The Daily Record Innovator of the Year Award," Shrodes said. "Proceeds from the event will be used to kick off the Havre de Grace Library Building Campaign and to provide support to our 11 library branches, the Silver Reader, the Rolling Reader, the annual summer and winter reading campaigns, STREAM programming, early literacy programs and campaigns, Partners in Reading, author discussions and speaker series."