Summer Reading 2014: First Dispatch.

Holy cow, where do I start?

At the beginning, I guess.

As far as I know, this is the first year that my library has done a full-on Summer Reading Program. And because I was building it from the ground up, OBVIOUSLY I couldn't, like, be PRACTICAL and go the CSLP route, right?

I mean, OF COURSE I had to put it all together from scratch.


For those who want to participate but keep it low-key, we've got the Reading Goals board. Set a Reading Goal (whether it's a certain number of books, hours, pages, or something else is up to them) and shoot for it. Every time a participant comes in, I ask for an update and then change the board accordingly.

For those who want a more directed experience, we introduced a Merit Badge program. There are three badges—Art, Space, and Color—that can be earned by reading themed books and completing themed projects. At the end of the summer, the badges will be handed out at the Fabulous Ice Cream Social & Award Ceremony, AND the library will add a book to the collection in the earner's name. (With a celebratory bookplate, naturally!) The Merit Badge program is open to patrons of all ages, and the plan is to roll out new badges every summer.

Programming! Every week, we're running (at least) two programs, one geared to the littles and one geared a bit older. While all of the programs are designed to complement the Merit Badge program—participation in the various programs counts towards earning badges—the programs are open to all comers.

Craft Table! I have a craft table set up all year round, and over the course of the SRP, I'm putting out the stuff for a different craft each week. (Again, all of the crafts are designed to complement the Merit Badge program, but again again, the craft table is there for everyone, regardless of whether or not the patron is a SRP participant.)

Raffles! We've got three raffle buckets—themed to match the Merit Badges, duh—set up on the front desk, and patrons get an entry slip every time they come in. (One per day.)

I think that's everything? Keep in mind that this is A) the first year we've done this, and B) that my library only has one full-time employee: me. (Thankfully, I have the BEST LIBRARY ASSISTANT EVER, and she has not only rearranged her schedule so she can be here during the programs, but she's also wrangled her daughter and son to come and and help me out. I need to figure out a good thank you, because WOWZA, THEY HAVE BEEN LIFE SAVERS.)


At Ye Olde Craft Table, we've done Alien Hats (<--my sample looked a lot like the one at this link, but the kids just RAN WITH IT and got WAAAAAAAAAAAY MORE INTENSE) and Paper Plate Rainbows (in addition to construction paper slips, I've supplied ribbon and yarn and other colorful strip-like items). If I'd known how popular cotton balls are as a crafting item, I'd have started supplying them months ago.

Balloon-powered Lego Space Rovers: We have a regular Lego Club night, but I ran this as a special daytime event. (Basically, it was just plain-old Balloon-Powered Lego Cars, but with a space theme.) Due to the positive response, I'm thinking I might have to schedule a regular daytime Lego Club next summer.

Footprint Rockets: This was a Saturday program, geared towards the littles, and it was low-key, quiet (even with the "accidental" Garden Hose Incident), and super cute. Once the kids had their footprints, we hairdryer-ed them dry and they headed off to the craft table to decorate!

Exploding Art: This one was today, and IT. WAS. BANANAS. It was a huge hit—so many kids showed up, holy cow—and we're already talking about doing a fall-themed one where we put the film canisters on top of flattened leaves to create white-space leaf shapes. A patron donated a big pile of drafting paper and it was perfect for this program: thick, decently absorbent, and BIG.


I sent out press releases and whatnot, but it was really talking it up, patrons sharing Facebook posts, and word-of-mouth that did it. Well, that and sending a few high school-aged volunteers to do presentations at the local elementary schools during the last week of school. THAT, we'll definitely have to do again next year.

Families who'd started using other libraries have been lured back, I've had families who've lived in town for years but have never set foot in the library, I've issued dozens of new library cards in just a few weeks. Circulation is up, traffic is up, the shelves are starting to look seriously picked over, and it's been fantastically busy around here.

TL;DR: It's been overwhelmingly positive: I've had so many parents stop and thank me for planning it, etc. Which has been really nice.

And now I might crawl under the circ desk and take a nap.