Thursday, September 29, 2016

Building a Better (?) Summer Reading

View of mountains and water from the
conference center
This week I had the pleasure of travelling to the absolutely stunning Columbia River Gorge to talk to the participants of the Oregon Library Support and Development Services Focus on Children and Young Adults Institute  (for brevity, named “The Focus Institute”).  This professional development opportunity takes place on even-numbered years and is attended nearly exclusively by non-MLIS library staff from small libraries, and has inspired the creation of similar programs in other states.

As I told attendees, I use a question mark after “better” because while I shared what’s worked for me, and we were going to try some things, I don’t think of any of the material as a do-all-end-all.  We did, however, get a jump start on our planning for SRP right there in the room.

The 2-hour presentation had three parts, some of which was structured similarly to the SRP presentation I gave in February 2014 in Wisconsin. These were:

Summer Reading Logs: Possibly the most-wanted portion of the program, I decided to lead with this. I briefly shared samples from Gretna Public Library, Los Alamos County Library System, and of course, La Crosse Public Library. We talked about the similarities among these programs, and the benefits of them. Being the model I know best, I went into further depth into LPL’s game cards and the considerations made when this model was born. After a quick Q&A, the group split up to create their own game cards! There are six weeks’ worth of ideas for the new theme here.

Oversized post-it note with a badly drawn
tic-tac-toe board drawn on it. Smaller post-it notes are in each square.
The words "Visit the library" in the center

Summer Reading Promotion: we talked a bit about community and school partnerships, and what to say to the kids. I talked a bit about the Brain Drain that spread to Washington County this year. The group split into teams again to discuss the top 2-3 things they would want kids to remember, which could be used in Summer Reading promotion at schools as well as at tabling and other events. Three suggestions that stood out to me 2 days later:
--Cadences: one attendee, taking to heart the idea that after the first time you hear a song you remember the chorus against your will, is planning to create a rhythm song that includes the library name and date of sign up, over and over. Talk about an evil genius!
--Utility bills: adding a flyer with the library address and summer hours to water bills is a practice that appeared old-hat for some, new for others. See if it could work for you!
--Invitation first: one attendee simply tells kids, “come see me at the library. I will be there.” They are the only staff member at their library, so this is always true as long as the library is open. Such a powerful message!

Three rows of four library staff talking with each other during an activity.

Iron Fist Management and Passive Programs:  These really made sense to put together. Looking around your room, as you’re making things shiny and removing things, what are some of the easiest things to make shiny? Passive programs!

We had about a half an hour at the end, which originally felt like it was going to be a long time but as ideas kept popping up  and we processed  and trouble-shot different aspects of Summer Reading together.

Jump start your SRP with six weeks of Game Card ideas by clicking here!

Just want all the resources? Check out the digital handout here!

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