Oh summer reading, what a unique time of year! This year’s is probably the most unique of all since so many libraries still aren’t open. Keep reading to find out how some of our libraries are adapting and handling it this year.
My two library districts are handling it very differently from each other. That is mostly because my large library district is now FULLY reopened (yes…that includes in person, in branch programming. No, I don’t want to talk about it.) Because the large district is open, we haven’t really had to change a whole lot other than delaying the start date initially by 2 weeks, not doing kick-off programs or special events/performances for it, and making more at-home friendly activity suggestions. Patrons are able to come in to redeem their prizes at any time through July 31st. We use Beanstack and they have 3 levels to complete, it’s pretty straightforward and easy to figure out.
For my smaller district, we are still only in curbside and have no set reopening date. This makes it a lot harder for patrons to redeem prizes because they can’t come inside the building. Right now we are testing out redeeming prizes by emailing families a list of prize books for them to choose from and then they come pick them up during curbside hours. This is just starting this week and it’s not being advertised, just if they call and inquire will we tell them about it for now. So we’ll see how it goes! This is also the first year we are using Beanstack as well so there are a lot of learning curves!
My library is still closed and we just started curbside yesterday. Because we didn’t even have a date for curbside when planning, I couldn’t plan any grab and go type things so my summer reading looks 100% different. Last year was my first year for scratch tickets and it was a rousing success but obviously that wasn’t going to work this year (as they can’t come in) so I switch to Bingo to match both our childrens and adult programs for this year. They submit their completed bingo lines via a google form (it’s all honor system). Each submission enters them to win gift cards that we will either grab and go or mail to them depending on where MA is in the process by the end of summer. Programming is all virtual. I have a successful Friday afternoon D&D program that’s continuing in the summer and then am doing four one shot Zoom programs, which so far have basically no sign ups. I suspected that this might happen which is part of the reason I only scheduled four all summer. It’s a different summer and I’ve come to terms with that!
Our library is now open for limited services; patrons are allowing in for 1 hour but no sitting/hanging around is allowed. Virtual programs have been a hit or miss with us, but we are still trying, especially with kids and adults. For teens, since we didn’t have a good core-group to start with, we’ve mainly been doing craft kits. These have been SUPER POPULAR and promise to talk more about them later this month. For the actual reading program, thankfully we didn’t have to change too much. Since we were already online we rolled with most of what we had. We did tweak our challenges a little, especially since we weren’t open to the public at first. Our biggest change is no prize pick up until August and unless something drastic happens that should still be able to happen as is. We’re are trying to create a prize catalog so patrons can look through that and pick rather than touching all the prizes! We’re going to have one pick up spot for all ages, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
My library branch will not reopen until July 20th the earliest. Some branches in my library system are open to staff to do inventory and weeding. Seven branches will open to the public for very limited service (holds pick-up) next week. Many librarians are doing virtual programs with the most popular ones being story-time. We’re also doing chat reference and reader’s advisory daily. Our summer camp has just gone virtual. We will not be hiring any teens for the summer, but we might bring on a set of volunteers. In terms of summer reading, we frequently host live performances by musicians, singers, artists, etc. I just started a new virtual program for teens — jigsaw puzzles. I’m hoping patrons continue to stay engaged virtually even after all branches eventually reopen!
I just came back to work this week, but staff has been back since the beginning of June. It has been interesting learning all of the new procedures – kind of like starting a new job! We have been open for curbside for several weeks. I was lucky enough to get a grant through the MA Board of Library Commissioners (via the CARES Act funding) to pay for 2 years of Beanstack. We had switched to scratch tickets and nothing online, which was great! But now I am going to start next week with an online Teen “Summer Challenge” with Beanstack. It took a while to figure out how I wanted it and how to set it up, but the Beanstack people are great and offer a lot of support. For the Summer Challenge, teens will complete activities to earn badges. If they earn a certain amount of badges, they will be entered into a drawing for a gift card (which I have not purchased yet.) I tried to have a little something for everyone and the activities include logging minutes, writing book reviews, reading certain types of books or books by certain kinds of authors, writing and reading poetry, short stories, starting a journal, doing something kind for someone else, taking a walk, doing yoga, etc. It reminds me a little of being in scouts and earning badges! I also created extra things like a fairy tale trivia quiz that is linked to the site and is an activity they can complete. One badge is all about finding out what kind of digital resources we offer on our website. Another badge can be earned by attending our virtual author event in August and they can only complete the badge by attending and receiving the secret password which they have to enter on Beanstack. Anyways, it has been fun learning the program and I am excited about all the other programs I can do for teens with Beanstack through the year!
Summer Reading is looking a little different at my library this year. Teens aren’t coming in with their book review, talking about the book they read with a volunteer or staff member, and then spinning the prize wheel to see what they get. Nope. They are submitting their book reviews online via READSquarred. Instead of prizes, they are earning virtual badges. However, they are still going to be entered in raffles at the end of summer. These prizes just won’t be given to them at the end of the summer party. As for library work in general, we only started going back in this week in three-hour shifts. This will happen for two weeks and then we will start curbside services. When we do allow patrons in again, it will be limited. Programs are all still virtual but I think I came up with some the teens will like. I’m just hoping that with going back to the building, some of my teens will walk by so I can safely wave hello to them.