Notes from the Summer Reading Revamp Session

Notes from the Summer Reading Revamp Session – taken by Heather Massa – hmeagher@eastrockawaylibrary.org

Many libraries are using Evanced – Resulting in the following:
• Less population in library for reporting
• Not necessarily a lot of people signing up (this varied by library)
• Less staff time used on prize redemption
One library is using Library Insight, a similar program to Evanced, but it lists the prize selection for children and keeps inventory of the quantity, so that if a prize is no longer available, it doesn’t list it as a choice – (this librarian said that the program is usable, but a bit “clunky”).
One library only uses books as prizes – they collect throughout the year, and have a connection to a reviewer, so they get a lot of ARCs. They also have a raffle.
We had a mix of public librarians and state or county youth services coordinators, so there was some interesting discussion of statistics. In one area of NJ, there was around 400 adults who signed up for SRC through Evanced, around 400 teens who signed up for SRC through Evanced, and around 3000 kids who signed up for SRC through Evanced. They sign the kids up on Evanced at the library itself, and find that keeps their statistics steady rather than telling the parents to go home and sign up.
Some libraries also give paper logs if that is how the patron prefers it, and they make a note in Evanced that the patron has a paper log.
Many libraries who used Evanced did not make reviewing books a necessity, but received a lot of reviews anyway. We discussed incentivizing participation – using some sort of point system that included attending a program or writing a review on a blog in addition to reading books for earning their prizes.
In two of the states represented in our discussion, the states paid for Evanced for a contract set number of years. Librarians were unsure whether they would continue the service when they had to pay for it out of their budget.
One library buys a bunch of items from the dollar store and creates “kits”, which go into a catalog for participants to choose from.
Someone had heard of a library that partnered with the Humane society and, instead of prizes, the SRC earned donations to the animals. We also talked about a library in a wealthier community that partnered with a different charity every week and children earned “donations”. Many charities will offer those rubber bracelets for a certain monetary donation, and that was what the children received.
We talked about “game cards” offered for reading different genres/non-fiction books. One library that has a raffle gives participants the opportunity to earn another raffle ticket by reading 5 out of the 10 non-fiction subject books.
The New Canaan library told us about a “pop-up park” that is sponsored one week by the library. It’s an ongoing summer program in the town that is sponsored by a different organization or business each time. They cordon off a piece of street and put out tables and chairs and umbrellas. They had their 3D printer set up and 2 storytimes. It was successful for the library but the storytimes were not well attended.
Some libraries attend street fairs and have booth sign ups and small crafts to promote the SRC.
One library has hosted “field trips,” which are meet ups at local spots. They had a trip to the ice cream store and to the Helicopter Museum. The library did require a permission slip be signed that they were under no liability for anything that happened at the meetup and they did not provide any sort of transportation.
One technology librarian told us about using gamer language to attract teens and tweens. Using different programs to earn “achievements” along with reading, creates the same feeling as badging. She set up a blog with their names and used publisher to make a gaming icon, then listed their achievements next to their names. Creating ringtones, programing games, attending programs all could earn achievements. Her library skyped with a book club in Ireland and both discussed “War Horse”. She also suggested signing up for the “Year of Code”, where all you have to do is provide 5 computers and students can work their way through the year of learning new things. There is a printable certificate once they complete the program.
One library had a Read-to-Me club, from birth to school age, where parents helped kids earn book prizes.
We discussed how statistics should count other things besides reading a book. Early literacy skills are addressed in lots of different types of programs and students who are doing a program like the “Year of Code” are certainly reading.

One librarian asked about how to address her need for incentives for a diverse population with a limited budget. Suggestions included trying to give a lot of choices and earning tickets towards a bigger prize. One suggestion was to contact Best Buy and other big business local to the library to see if they would donate something substantial.
One thing is clear throughout the states and populations represented: PROGRAM ATTENDENCE IS UP! Does it matter if the kids are registered members of the Summer Reading Club? They are reading when they are playing a game. They are reading when they are following instructions for a passive table craft. They are engaged with literacy when attending a storytime. Statistics for registration are down, but the SRC is only a PART of the Summer Reading Program as a whole. Think of the Summer Reading PROGRAM as Reader’s Advisory, programs, helping kids prepare for school, creating responsible community members.
Professional Reading Suggestion – Expect More by David Lankes.
If kids are using twitter, tumblr, gaming, coding more and more, did we win the battle to get them reading? Are they reading more than ever, even if it is less traditionally?
One library teamed up with the Mayor to promote summer reading, and when the participants earned an ice cream party, his office paid for and promoted it.
One state advisor changed her tactic on statistic reporting with two questions to member libraries – 1. How many programs did you have? 2. How many participants? Those changed her statistics report from dismal to awesome. Reading can be quantified in a lot of ways if you can figure out how to look for it.
Two Takeaways – One) Summer Reading Club is only part of the Summer Reading Program and Two) Maybe we need to take a look at the purpose of the Summer Reading Club and change the way we deem it successful (change the way we look at the statistics).

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