Summer reading outreach

"Summer Reading Program" by Alina Sysoeva

“Summer Reading Program” by Alina Sysoeva

Even if summer reading programming has already begun at your library, it’s never too late to promote this much-beloved activity. If your program (and librarians!) feel tired and in need of fresh outreach, we’ve got ideas for you from fellow citizens of LibraryLand.

Abbe Klebanoff, Head of Public Services at Lansdowne Public Library in Landsdowne, PA shared this fun promotional video they’ve used to promote their summer reading program.  I love how it promotes the LIBRARIANS as a resource as well as the summer reading program.  Very clever, Abbe and co.! Bonus: if your library checks out the equipment used to make videos, be sure to plug that. Perhaps you could do a video promoting eBooks as part of summer reading. Recruit patrons to help you make versions of videos in languages other than English commonly spoken in your community. AND, don’t forget to offer closed-captioning for videos.

imagesWhen I lived in Eugene, Oregon, the public librarians were fantastic about taking advantage of the summer festivals to promote their summer reading program.  Armed with crafts and sign up sheets, librarians were a fixture at summer concert series, neighborhood events, and city festivals. In getting out of the library and out to the public, Danielle Day, Youth Services Manager at Carnegie-Stout Public Library uses one of my favorite outreach tools: tabling at markets.  Market stalls are a cheap, high-impact way to reach an audience.

Liz Hoffman, Library Associate at Siouxland Libraries, wins big for her creative, easy outreach. She visited a local middle school and taught 400 6th graders how to make a dollar bill appear out of thin air, which she learned from a YouTube video. “We are holding a workshop this summer about illusions, and the teens will be learning a few basic magic tricks. The dollar bill trick was the easiest trick from the workshop, and it made a great demonstration of the fun things you can learn at the library during the summer,” says Hoffman. Since doing the presentation, Hoffman notes an increase in the number of students from the middle school.

And finally, a quick word on outreach to underserved populations. Who are the underserved in your community? Here are a few ideas:

  • Pima County Public Library serves juveniles in a detention center through a summer reading program, among other programs
  • Group homes
  • Single mom/dad programs
  • Long-term hospitalized children
  • Young parent groups (check local high schools for programs geared towards student parents)
  • Military families
  • Families in shelters

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