Summer Reading Reflections

books stacked on top of a table outdoors at dusk with lights in the backgroundWith school is back in session and fall weather in full force, Summer Reading might be the last thing on our minds, but this is a good time to step back and reflect on what worked well and what we’d like to change for next time while it’s still pretty fresh in our minds.

Here are a few reflections from libraries around the state. How did your Summer Reading program go? What hopes do you have for next year?

Mark Richardson, Cedar Mill Library

I was pleased that we had a big jump in teens signing up this year. I think it was a combination of moving our summer reading table to be near the entry and additional outreach by myself and others in the schools.

The one thing I will change next year is we have a Powells gift card giveaway in the middle of the summer in an effort to get kids in the library throughout the summer. I will probably move to weekly giveaways rather than one big one in the middle in order to encourage kids to come in throughout the summer.

April Witteveen, Deschutes Public Library

DPL’s teen summer reading program has been primarily analog for the past several years. This summer we did a print bingo card/paper coupon combo and also ran a sports-themed trivia contest throughout the summer. We saw an increase in participation, hopefully attributed to the intense amount of school outreach we do in the spring (and perhaps the lure of our grand prize: a $100 gift card to a book store or to REI). We took the CSLP theme and tweaked it to fit all ages with a “Team Read” theme. Physical and outdoor activity is a huge part of the central Oregon lifestyle, so it we had a lot of success with rock climbing, Olympic-themed relays, circus skills, and life-size gaming programs. We have begun opening many of our summer programs to tweens as we tend to see a younger crowd in the summer, and we needed to build that bridge between kids’ and teen programming. It was great to have many enthusiastic 9- and 10-year-olds in our events!

Every year we review our TSRP format and consider strategies for reaching non-traditional library users in the summer. This continues to be our biggest challenge. While our participation grew, we still aren’t seeing the numbers that would demonstrate TSRP is saturating our communities. I don’t think this challenge is unique to central Oregon, so I’m always curious to hear what other libraries are doing to have a stronger summer reading presence with their local teens.

Ian Duncanson, Beaverton City Library

The BCL once again had teens read for 15 hours over the summer and then turn in a completed log. They could also write additional book reviews for weekly gift card drawings. We did a bunch of great programs –- highlights were the Taiko drum workshop, two Henna nights, a balloon animals workshop, and many more. We had 1,212 finishers this year.

What went well? The balloon animals workshop (for tweens) was great. Not only did they create animals based on the instructions, but it was huge fun to see them work together and get creative with their own designs. What would I change? Mostly small technical things. I would change the weather on our lawn party day so it doesn’t rain! 🙂

Traci Glass, Eugene Public Library

Teen Summer Reading at the Eugene Public Library went well this year! We made a few changes, like having teen sign-up be only for actual teenagers (in the past we allowed students going into 6th grade the option of signing up for the kids or teen program) — that dropped my numbers a bit, but my budget wasn’t busted over all the 6th (and 5th and 4th) graders signing up over in teen. We’ll try this for another year to see how we and the kids/teens like this change. My programs were the most fun part of the summer: I had LeBrie Rich do Doctor Who felting (thanks, Aimee, for the recommendation!); we did huge wind art mobiles that were made by teens out of bicycle wheels, old umbrellas & more; a teen talent show; a showing of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (which was way better than I thought it was going to be!) and my favorite — morse code jewelry. Morse code jewelry is made using “dashes” and “dots” I bought from Michael’s and a local bead store. Teens made words using the dashes and dots and a Morse code alphabet page printed from the internet to make bracelets & necklaces. I did this craft at all three branches & we all had so much fun! 🙂

I wouldn’t change a thing about my SR program — except for coming up with all new, cool programs for next year!

Gretchen Kolderup, St. Helens Public Library

This was my first year doing Summer Reading at my library. Because I started in mid-April, I’m mostly just proud that we managed to throw it together and have it go reasonably well! I gathered more data this year than we have in years past, which gave me some new ways to understand who’s doing our Summer Reading program. Now that I have data for this year, I can experiment next year and see what impact that has on who’s signing up, how far through the program they get, and what they think of the program.

Our teen reading log is pretty similar to the kids’ reading log, so I’m excited to differentiate the program more next year and (I hope!) create more volunteer opportunities for older teens over the summer who might be more focused on building their resume than reading for fun or attending library programs. I’m also exploring ways to incorporate more learning and hands-on activities to broaden the appeal and impact of the program. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m looking forward to it!