Friday, June 7, 2013

If you promote it, will they come?

Many a public librarian has struggled with the topic of how to get kids from the local schools to participate in summer reading. We visit for summer reading rallies, hoping that our enthusiastic encouragements will inspire them to show up during the summer. Sometimes, however, that's not enough. Once kids are out of school, with no teacher or librarian to remind them to visit the public library, the whole premise of the public library's summer reading program can fall through the cracks.

To try to get more local students involved in summer reading, a few of the local schools are working with us this year on some new promotional strategies:
  • Principals are emphasizing to caregivers that student participation in the public library's summer reading program is strongly encouraged. A few local elementary schools sent home letters with this message, and they were signed by the principal. Several schools have planned rewards for students who bring their public library SRP logs back to school in the fall. And at least one local school is using their robo-calling service (typically used for delays and snow days) to remind all families to visit the public library. In return, we collect names and schools of all children who finish our program. We report these successful students' names to their schools in the fall.
  • Reminders about the public library SRP will be handed out at open school library days this summer. A handful of elementary schools in our district are open to students one day each in June and July. One of the school librarians specifically asked me to create a simple flyer (pictured above) that she can give to attendees to remind them about our program. I included the addresses for the two nearest branch libraries, as many of these families haven't visited the public library before.
  • School librarians have arranged to meet their students in our public library meeting room. This promotional strategy had a few hiccups in its initial occurence; we had booked the meeting room for the school librarians, but we didn't know ahead of time to arrange to have a staff member in the room with them to help with SRP sign-ups. After a bit of shuffling, our staff set up a makeshift SRP sign-up station in the meeting room to help the 75+ families that stopped in. The school librarians had advertised that students who met them at the public library and signed up for our SRP would get bonus incentives at their school.

Those are the three new strategies we're trying this summer with our local school district to encourage their students' participation in our SRP. I'm hoping both our sign-up and completion statistics see a jump because of these efforts. At any rate, if we can bring in even just a handful of new families to the library's SRP this summer, I'll count us successful.

Do you take any intentional steps to get more students involved in your summer reading program?

3 comments:

  1. I really like these promo pieces and partnerships with the schools to get the word out. You see the forest for the trees - and make me re-commmit to going that extra mile!

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    1. Thanks, Marge. It has definitely been a collaborative effort, resulting from several conversations with different school librarians. And it's all still trial-and-error, with room to work out the kinks in future implementations.

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  2. We are trying something brand new this summer. We are taking the children's summer reading program into the summer school classrooms. Before summer school started we had a meeting with all the elementary summer school teachers and principals and on the second day of summer school we took the materials to the schools and hand them out to each teacher. The teachers are in charge of explaining the program to the kids and helping them track their progress. The students will have four weeks to complete the first level of our program and we'll take incentives the third and fourth weeks of summer school. It's going so well thus far, that I'm hoping I have enough incentives.

    There are three levels to our program, so at the end of summer school the teachers will send everything home with the kids, with a letter for the parents explaining what the kids have been working on. We're hoping that the kids/families will continue to work on it and finish level two and three and return to the library for more incentives.

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