Summer Reading Programs

Summer Time, and the living is easy.

Unless you are a children’s or teen services librarian in a public library.

Summer Reading Programs can be a tough time for librarians: it’s a busy time, with lots of prep work. There are all sorts of demands, and expectations, and stresses. It can be frustrating; and it can be rewarding.

I originally began writing a post about how these hard working librarians get “should” on a lot, about what they should and should not be doing for Summer Reading, and how that adds to all the stress, but as I wrote and rewrote it just wasn’t working. Sometimes a post is like that.

So I took a step back, realizing the post wasn’t working because I didn’t know what I wanted to say, not really. And then my thoughts came together:

One thing that can help during Summer Reading is the support and feedback from peers. And, no, I’m not talking about other children’s and teen librarians.

I mean the other staff in libraries; and our library colleagues on line. I can remember doing a successful program, feeling pretty darn good about it, getting positive comments from the kids and their patrons, only to have other staff complain about the noise, the mess, and the kids, and wow, weren’t they looking forward to September!

Let me tell you, that’s not a great feeling. Oh, I can understand their feelings; and there is nothing wrong with those feelings; but please, don’t say it to me, and don’t say it where I can hear you. Because that? That’s pretty discouraging. It’s also discouraging to read that from my library peers online, on social media.

I’m sure we could all share such a story. But I’m still in the glow of Show Me The Awesome, so I want to make this positive.

What are some of the great things that other library staff (in your library, personally, or on line) have done to help during Summer Reading?

What are some of the things your library has done to create a supportive environment so that we’re not complaining about each others programs?

Or, what other thoughts do you have so that Summer Reading is about the whole library,  not just one department?


14 thoughts on “Summer Reading Programs

  1. Pretty excited that our new adult programmer has added SRP for adults. And our new-ish circ manager has special quick return slots open on big program days. Rarely hear the “too many, too noisy” comments from staff these days. It’s pretty nice!


  2. Sharon, an adult SRP is a great idea: including everyone, both patrons and staff. And I also like the practical touch, such as addressing all the returns on program days with a special return.


  3. Last year was the first year we used a summer reading software. A lot of the reading login/prizes awarded in the Children’s Dept is done by teen volunteers. Our Children’s Librarian made it mandatory that the teens signed up for the teen summer reading program, which was awesome! It really helped out my numbers, plus since the teen volunteers could read during their shift, they won some fun prizes. Win-Win!


    1. a win for the teen volunteers, plus also their involvement in summer reading — showing them you value their participation and encourage their reading. yay!


  4. At one of my libraries, Summer Reading is for everyone–children, teens, and adults. Different prizes and different emphasis, but I think that really helps draw the library together. It’s not those weird YS people doing their glitter thing, but much more of a we’re all in this together atmosphere. I will note, though, that this library is fantastic in terms of overall library cohesiveness. Building relationships throughout the year is definitely a huge factor come SRC.


    1. great points that this is not a “summer” thing but something built year round. and also yay for including everyone in SR


  5. I got my staff excited because I simplified the rules and the actual process. The previous librarians had so many steps and certain prizes and games for certain ages. If you have to train the staff for more than 5 minutes on SRP stuff, the process is too complicated. Less is more. 🙂


    1. I like your five minute rule — because that’s not just explaining to staff, but also to parents and kids and teens. if it takes that long….. so yes, less complicated is better!


  6. When the circ staff complains about the noise, the kids, the programs, I love it because we are doing something right!! Summer Reading is my favorite part of being a public librarian. IMHO in the summer, the children’s room drives the bus.


    1. Noise = kids having fun! SR is such a big, visible part of what the library does, it helps for staff to realize its not just something they have to grin & bear during summer. If it went away, strong library advocates would also disappear….as well as the terrific photo ops libraries like to use.


  7. I took over as the Administrator for Public Service at my library right when summer reading madness hit. In addition to a green supervisor, my staff had to deal with a new partnership, new SRP software, a program that seemed designed to be hard to understand and an early summer heat wave.

    I am happy to say that not only has my staff met the challenge, they have completely destroyed it! We are in early days, but our adult reading program is showing amazing numbers and we have had capacity crowds at all our youth and teen programs! I am constantly amazed at how flexible, creative and helpful the public service staff at my library is.


  8. My branch manager allowed us to offer ALL staff to join us booktalking in the elementary schools. The only non-children’s staff who decided to take up the offer was a circulation aide. She was wonderful and was a great part of booktalks. And now she’s all the more on board for summer reading, as well as making the booktalks a little bit easier for children’s staff. We hope next year we’ll get more volunteers.


  9. Sondy, booktalking is so much fun and how great to bring other people into it! I once worked in a town with a regional MS/HS system, so the 3 librarians from the 3 towns shared the booktalking. We went as a group, gave our talk, etc etc. I think everyone enjoyed seeing “their librarian” plus it saved our voices! And yes, including staff in the fun things help them support the whole program.


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