In honor of the season and the day, I am reposting an article I wrote for Novelist a few years ago for this early summer edition of Throwback Thursday. At the time, this felt like edgy stuff – ditching the CSLP theme felt like a crazy move! However, based on responses to the piece, I learned that many other libraries were also (and were already) rethinking summer reading.
Fast forward to 2016 and libraries are still doing just that – rethinking, reframing, and redesigning summer reading programs to create more value, reach more people, and have a greater impact. Inspired by what many other libraries are doing, Chapel Hill Public Library is embracing the summer challenge framework and expanding the scope beyond just reading to embrace experiential learning as well.
As I post this, and thanks to our fabulous Youth, RA, and Marketing staff, we are launching our 2016 Summer Challenge: Read More, Do More, Learn More – I’ll let you know how it goes.
Raise your hand (and comment below) if you and your library are rethinking the season and your approach to it. I’d love to hear about what you are doing!
Originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Kids & Books
It all started in the fall of 2011. After another summer — our busiest season at Lawrence Public Library — staff from Children’s, Teen, and Adult departments gathered to discuss how the summer reading program went. Good participation numbers? Check! Engaging slate of programs? Check! Lots of happy readers? Check!
But there was an elephant in the room. As the newly appointed Marketing Director, I waited for someone else to say it. I knew they were thinking it. Finally, someone made the comment that started a deeper conversation. A conversation that eventually led to us “going rogue” for summer reading. A member of the adult services staff said, “I just wish the swag bags had our name on them. I see people carrying these cute cloth bags all over town, which is great. But you can’t tell that people got these bags from us, which isn’t so great.”
This comment led to a weeks-long discussion about the marketing and promotional piece of summer reading. For years, like many libraries, we bought into the CSLP — the Cooperative Summer Library Program. We liked how everything was pre-fabricated. The theme for the year was done, all of the graphics provided, and all of the incentives ready to hand out. But this was also exactly what we didn’t like about it. We were trying to figure out ways to make our marketing and branding what I termed “hyper-local.” The way we’d approached summer reading was easy, and the themes were good, but they did not speak to our community. We decided to re-think summer reading from top to bottom. The result: a totally local summer reading program that looks great, is easy to engage with, and is more successful than ever. Read the full article here.