Another year’s nearly done already, but, before we let it go, we thought we’d check in with a couple of libraries to see what worked particularly well for them in 2014.
Catherine Haydon, Children’s Services Manager at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Susan Jelic, Youth Services Librarian at Dearborn Public Library in Dearborn, Michigan, shared some of their high points.
At Charlotte Mecklenburg, the staff for each division of the summer reading program (children’s, teen, and adult services) worked to partner with engaging, relevant, and high-interest organizations, performers, and presenters. They then worked with the staff at each of the library system’s 20 locations to select the programs best suited for each individual community.
They were often at capacity for early literacy story time for children as well as during special events for school-age children, which included everything from magicians to traditional storytellers to live reptiles.
For teens (ages 12-18), they held a Teen Fashion Apprentice series across multiple locations with the winning designer receiving a weeklong apprenticeship working with the costumers at the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte.
For adults, the library partnered with the County Parks and Recreation Department to host an eco-friendly living series. “Through [these] programs, along with special events featuring local authors, we were able to extend learning opportunities for our Adult Summer Reading participants,” Haydon said.
At Dearborn Public Library, they found that their patrons enjoyed the “drop-in” program offerings—programs which didn’t require pre-planning or pre-registration. Their drop-in craft days and outdoor story time were among the most popular programs for children.
For adults, the Dearborn Public Library hosted a lunch-and-learn series featuring local experts on specific topics, such as green cleaning or gardening. “Patrons who work full-time appreciated bringing their brown bag [lunches] to the library and learning during these lunch hour lectures,” Jelic noted.
Summer Reading Wrap-up
Over the past several years, the Dearborn Public Library has hosted a Summer Reading Wrap-up Party for the community. However, this year they went away from the carnival format run by the staff and went out into the community. They worked with different city departments to coordinate logistics and featured a local, kid-friendly band—think “I Scream for Ice Cream” sung by the Ramones. They also featured a reading by a local author. “It was a great community builder,” said Jelic.
When asked if they’ll host a similar party next year, Jelic said, “Our summer reading wrap-up party has become legendary. I can’t imagine telling patrons there will not be one.”
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library challenged its summer reading program participants to collectively record 25 million minutes of reading during its eight-week program. In the end, the community exceeded its goal and recorded 26 million minutes—a record-breaking number for the 20-facility library system.
So, what’s next? For 2015, both Haydon and Jelic look forward to working more closely with their local schools.
Jelic and the staff at Dearborn Public Library are planning to use social media and the statistics they’ve collected from their online summer reading program to create a competition between schools.
They’ve also already begun collecting discarded comics to use in conjunction with the 2015 CSLP superhero theme. (Good idea!)