Friday, November 30, 2007

Why make something more complicated than it has to be?

Adrienne, from What Adrienne Thinks About That has a fabulous post about how she simplified her library's Summer Reading Program.

You should read it, because it's pure genius.

The key to the changes was based on this logic:
"the more children visit the library, the more likely that they’re reading. Well, DUH, in most cases, that’s going to be because their parents value the library enough to bring them there frequently, and I’m going to wager those parents are also reading to their kids and even reading themselves in their spare time."

So instead of tying the prizes to how many books a kid read, the prizes were given out in the form of weekly drawings. The more times a kidlet came to the library each week, the more times that kidlet could enter the drawings.

Adrienne's library backed this newer, simpler program up with a good collection, strong programming, and free "make-and-take" activities.

This version of the SRP resonated well with me. When I was a college student, I worked for a public library during the summer. I saw kids come into the library, pull a stack of books of the shelf, flip through them, and bring them to me for credit. It always seemed to me like a slap in the face to kids who actually read the books they were trying to get credit for. But, since it wasn't against the rules, I had to give these kidlets the credit for "reading" the books.

Bravo to Adrienne and to her library for helping to change the thinking about what a Summer Reading Program should be.


adrienne said...

Thanks for the link! I know that summer reading incentive programs are a big tradition in public libraries, so I've been kind of reluctant to speak loudly about what I've been feeling and what I did this past summer for fear of irritating a lot of my colleagues. People have been reacting really positively, though. I appreciate it; it's affirming.

yarnlibrarian said...

This is great, and the way I've done adult reading programs. My only concern with it for children's programs is that they are at the mercy of their parents to bring them in (more so the younger ones or a suburban library that doesn't get walk in traffic) - so if Mom can only come once a week (and then they get a big stack of books to last the week) the little one only gets one entry. Just a thought.