GREENFIELD — It wasn’t quite the world record-setting event library officials had hoped for, but it was still a day for the record books.

Nearly 700 people showed up at the Greenfield-Central High School football field Saturday to balance a book on their heads, breaking the North America record for the number of people to do so at once. Hancock County Public Library officials were hoping to set a Guinness World Record during the summer reading program kickoff event. The threshold to beat was 998 people.

While the 700 attendees weren’t enough to break the world record, library officials said they were able to shatter the North American record of 450 people.

The event was the largest ever hosted by the library. That was something worth celebrating.

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“We couldn’t have done this at the library because it is not big enough,” assistant director Barbara Roark said. “It’s been an amazing day, and we’re absolutely thrilled with the community support.”

Anyone from adults to children entering first grade were eligible to participate. All they had to do was walk 5½ yards with a book balanced on their heads.

That, however, sometimes proved challenging. If a participant dropped their book, they had to start over.

“It is hard to do,” Weston Elementary School third-grader Hunter Southwood said. “You’ve just got to keep your head really still, but it’s not easy.”

Penny Stout of Wilkinson brought her four young children to the event to watch her take part.

“They’re too young to do it, but I thought it sounded like fun,” Stout said.

Jan Jarson of New Palestine couldn’t resist the chance to try to break the record. She was one of the many patrons who brought a book from home to balance and then donated it to the library.

Library youth services children’s assistant Sara Cloyd came up with the idea for the event several months ago. She said she thought it would be a good way to collect books for the needy.

Donated books will go to various county charities and around the state, she said.

Library officials said they’re thrilled with the North American record and setting a library event attendance mark.

“This was a great way for everybody in our county to come together and do something big,” Sugar Creek Youth Liberian Deborah Reynolds said.

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or