We're two weeks into our Summer Reading Program (SRP) which started May 18th and the library is buzzing with summer readers! We have been extremely busy passing out summer reading game boards and prizes and helping kids find books to read this summer. One of the most fun, and most frustrating, aspects of summer reading is that our bookshelves get raided so all those popular series titles kids want and parents are familiar with (Harry Potter, Junie B. Jones, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Magic Tree House) tend to be frequently checked out with few to no copies left on the shelf. This is frustrating for patrons who only want what is familiar but also can be fun for us as we get to jump into reader's advisory more and help these readers branch out and find something new (which can also be tricky as frequent go to readalikes tend to also be checked out!)
So here's what we've been up to in our first two weeks of summer reading:
-This year I did a kickoff party on the day SRP started. This was a change from last year when I did it the first Saturday in June, about two weeks after SRP started. There was some patron concern that they felt "behind" in summer reading by having the kickoff program set after the technical start date, so this year I hoped to ease those concerns by having it happen all on the same day. It was a massive event!
Our theme this year is Dig Into Reading, I started the day off with a storytime about dinosaurs at 10:00 in the department, then opened the doors to the storyhour room which was filled with crafts and activities. There was "cave drawing" (butcher paper taped to the wall to color on), pasta dinosaur bones (glue pasta onto paper in the shape of a dinosaur) , pirate parrots (taped onto a clothespin so you can wear your paper parrot like a pirate), and SRP passports (which we create every year for kids to get stamped on each visit to the library).
I also created two scavenger hunts around the library. One was easier with clues on which department to find each pyramid. The second said there were seven dinosaurs hidden around the library and the dinos were numbered. There weren't any clues, they just had to wander around the library and find the dinosaurs. We had done a scavenger hunt similar to this before and it was a huge hit, but the dinos were hidden a bit too hard, so we had to adjust the hiding places early on so people could find them.
The crafts and scavenger hunt were kept up all day and was come and go.
The rest of the day was filled with other fun activities: 11:00-The Land Before Time Movie, 1:00-Pirate Storytime, 2:00-Journey to the Center of the Earth Movie, 4:00-Garden Storytime, 7:00-Geezerfest concert on the patio. We host a concert with a local band every year so we tied it into our kickoff.
So how did it go? It was OK. The library was super busy and having all those activities just added to the craziness. While around 80 kids and 40 adults ended up visiting the come and go craft room during the day, the majority of that group came at 10:00 when the kickoff started and the afternoon crowd just happened to wander in because it was open, not because they came of the kickoff. The movies attracted small crowds-the first storytime had 30 kids, second 11 kids, and the third 5 kids. I held them in the department to attract a crowd.
I think next year I'll keep the first major event on the first Saturday in June and just not call it a kickoff but an SRP celebration or something as I felt last year's later event had a larger attendance and more interest.
And just for fun, here are our SRP stats so far:
From May 18-May 30, we gave the SRP spiel to approximately 1132 families (I try to keep track of how many times we pass out SRP info, tell people about the program, etc. because it takes staff time and I want it counted in our statistics. I also like to see how many families we tell about SRP and compare that with how many return with the game boards. This is an approximate number because we don't always remember to mark down when we talk about SRP, but it feels like a million times a day!!!)
Youth Services Staff answered 1100 reference questions (this means we answered books about books, helped people find information, put items on hold, etc.) This was just in 13 days, which is interesting to think about when you look at April and realize in the entire month of April, we answered 1618 reference questions. This gives an idea of how busy we are in the summer!!
And so far this year my library branch has 622 teens and 564 kids who have signed up for SRP or completed at least one level of the summer reading program!
So that means for the past few days we have talked about SRP about 87 times a day, answered questions about 85 times a day and helped kids with SRP prizes 43 times a day. And that doesn't even include game computer signups, helping with internet and game computer questions, straightening the shelves, picking up books and toys, assisting with the shelf check machine in the department, or updating library cards!
If you see a librarian this summer make sure to give them a hug-and maybe some chocolate! We need it!!!