Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Reading is Over!

The 2012 Summer Reading Program IS OVER! Woo hoo! While all of the reading and excitement that goes on during the nine weeks of the summer reading program is fantastic, those nine weeks are also crazy hectic and time-consuming for all of the library staff. Everyone at the library is breathing a sigh of relief now that we know we've made it to the end of the summer. And while it will still be a few days before I tally the final statistics and recap the grand summer reading volunteers experiment, I want to join the trend and make a few basic reflections on the summer--before all my thoughts and suggestions are forgotten and thus don't factor into next year's planning.
  1. I love the idea to not have staff-led programming during the first and last weeks of summer reading. Since these two bookend weeks see tons of kids at the summer reading table, we could use as much staff support to sign kids up and hand out prizes--even with an army of teen volunteers on hand. In theory this programming lull will also help ease staff into the SRP.
  2. Series programming really seems to work well for a potential audience with the whole summer off. Both my picnic lunch and movie programs did consistently well this summer, and I will make sure to schedule both series into the Summer 2013 plan.
  3. Special programs fill up fast, especially if they have the word "party" tacked on the end. If I opt to include a party program in future summers, I will absolutely offer at least two sessions to accommodate demand. However, I'm currently not sure that I want to offer these planning-intensive and demanding-of-staff programs during summer reading, when we already have lots of featured performers who can reach a much larger audience. I'll have to ponder that thought.
  4. I need to rethink my summer craft programs. While the crafternoons were successful, I think there is significant room for improvement. This summer we offered two crafternoons--one in June, one in July--where supplies were available in the program room for a 90-minute period. A children's staff member was on hand the entire time to explain the craft, provide help when needed, and supervise. Despite the fact that our advertising said families could attend at any time in the 90-minute window, 95% of our participants showed up at the very beginning and were finished and gone fifteen minutes later. I want to figure out a way to meet the craft wants of my customers while utilizing staff and supplies more effectively. I'll be scouring blogs for ideas, but I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
  5. While we had great summer reading displays out in the main library area, we didn't have one for use in the programming room. As a result, at some programs we remembered to talk up summer reading and at others we forgot. I want to make some sort of mobile, attractive summer reading display that we can take into programs to promote the summer reading program at all library events.
Those are my thoughts for now as I look back on my first summer in charge of summer reading at my branch. I'm sure more ideas and criticisms will present themselves before it's time to plan for Summer 2013, when I'll also sit on the district-wide committee to plan the whole reading program. Until then, I know I join my staff in breathing a sigh of relief at having crossed the finish line.


  1. At my former branch, we did a couple of all-afternoon (around four hours) craft sessions in our meeting room during summer reading. We had teen volunteers in the room to help out with the actual crafting, with desk staff serving as the point people. It was a small branch, though, so this may not work at a library of your size. But our teen volunteers were fantastic - great with the kids and eager to help out. And the target age group - preschoolers to third-grade or so - love it when older "kids" rather than adults give them attention. But yeah, these kind of programs take up a lot of time and energy.

    And let me note that while summer reading was fun, I too am glad it is done. At our branch, us clericals and techs have to help more with shelving and upkeep activities because of the sheer number of returned items. Now I can get back to the tech stuff that's my acutal job.

    1. Great tip about younger kids enjoying when their older counterparts are the ones helping them out. We saw the same thing at the registration desk: a kid signed up by an enthusiastic teen volunteer was always pumped to get reading.

  2. We do one craft program during the summer, as our closing program. We set up several crafts throughout our meeting room and let them go at it, open-house style. We usually have about 25-30 kids come through, which is what we get for whatever closing program we do, whether it's a paid performer, puppet show or something else. We tag our volunteer pizza party onto the end of it, so we end up with plenty of helpers. We tell them their party starts when we're cleaned up from the craft fair. We're pretty much always ready in less than half an hour. :)

    1. I like the idea of a big closing program that uses volunteers (with their own reward afterwards, too, love it!). This summer we only used volunteers at the summer reading table--not in programs--but I'm definitely going to give this idea some thought for next summer.

      See my full summer reading volunteer wrap-up next week!


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