Blogger Angela Reynolds

The Summer Reading Rush

How many of you are experiencing the Summer Reading Rush? You know what I mean– madly running about printing booklets and fliers for schools, cutting paper, assembling prizes, calling last minute performers, making sure there are enough supplies for that fateful day in June….

As Head of YS, I get to do most of my work before June arrives. I make lots of photocopies. I put together a kit of prizes, booklets, statistic sheets, and how-to guides for each branch. I get the website all geared up for the launch on June 15. I’ve spent the last few months writing letters, making visits, and phoning businesses asking for money and donations. I’ve sent thank-you letters and gotten jpeg files via email so I can add the sponsor logos to our booklets. I’ve arranged to get SRP leaflets into report cards (and THAT means I have to assemble the leaflets for each school according to enrollment numbers). I’ve become close friends with our photocopier and the local print shop owner. I praise the new folding machine daily. I have lots of tiny little post-it notes on my desk, reminding me of one more detail I must get covered. Order more bookmarks! Get prizes on website! Your paper is in at Integrity! Send PR to the newspaper!

So I can take my holiday in June. But I’ll be back in time for the official kick-off, and back in time to put out tiny fires, to answer those last-minute questions, to help do registration in the busiest branches, and to do orientation for the summer student workers.

I have a committee who helps with design and who makes sure my ideas match with what is possible in our tiny, one-staff branches. It is those people who are the Heroes of Summer Reading– the front-line staff who answer the same question day after day, who can repeat the SRP mantra in their sleep. Summer Reading happens because those Heroes smile, help kids find books, award those little trinkets, and keep parents happy throughout the summer. And it happens because of the behind-the-scenes work done here at my office. True library teamwork!

Many of you will agree that Summer Reading is probably the most visible program that public libraries offer. And you’ll also agree it takes more work to pull off than anything else we do. To all the unsung heroes who are toiling away, right now, without time to read a blog, let alone write one, a round of applause. Take a deep breath, and remember how important you are. You’ll need that boost of energy sometime in late July. Hip, Hip, Hooray to us all!


  1. kate

    Angela, you’re right about the “heroes of summer reading.” In my library, the overworked, underpaid desk staff is on the front line. However, when I decided to convene a meeting that included them to discuss SRP plans and requirements (in addition to all their other responsibilities), I found out exactly what they felt was realistic… and what was not! Ever since then, the desk staff has been very much inside the planning process. When they were invested in SRP by helping to plan the activities themselves, everyone had a much cheerier attitude towards the whole thing.
    Here’s to the beginning of a new SRP season, and may all our circulation be rising!

  2. thom barthelmess

    Kate, I love the last line of your comment!
    It’s so easy to get caught up in the gargantuan task of putting everything together – scheduling programs, printing materials, booking meeting rooms, publicizing the program to kids in the community (and to library staff!), etc. – that we can lose sight of why we’re working so hard. Our youth services team engages in an exercise, right before we “open the doors” on a summer of reading fun, to identify what we hope will happen, and how we’ll know when it does. I know some of the team thinks it’s kind of corny, but for me it’s a great way to rise above all the (pesky) details for a moment and recommit to the deeper value of our endeavors.

    Here’s what we came up with:

    Summer Reading 2008 – What do we hope will happen?

    – Young people will discover/build a love of reading.
    – Young people will enjoy themselves.
    – Youth Services staff will enjoy themselves.
    – Branch staff will enjoy themselves.
    – The number of young people in the community reading for pleasure will increase.
    – The community will become aware of other Library Programs and Services.
    – Young people will enjoy an increased sense of agency, setting and reaching their own goals.
    – The Austin Public Library will attract new regular users.
    – Young people will have happy library experiences that become happy library memories.
    – Young people completing the Summer Reading Program will enjoy a sense of accomplishment.
    – Young people will retain/build on the reading skills they developed during the school year.
    – We will see more young people in the library during non-program times.
    – Young people will take pride in their reading, and express that pride in the future, at home, at school, etc.

    How will we know if it happened?

    – Young people will express an interest in participating again next year.
    – Staff will participate with their children.
    – Registration numbers will increase.
    – Completion percentages will increase.
    – Branch staff will voluntarily help out.
    – We will see young people we haven’t seen before.
    – New library card registrations will increase.
    – If we’re having fun, they’re having fun.

  3. Angela

    Thom, I am so using your list. Thanks for posting that! I like your objectives and your measurements. Very results-oriented!

  4. Teresa Walls

    Ah, yes,the busyness of SRP, a truly rewarding experience. This year our library SRP is “going green” with, as the program’s web FAQ page states “using recycled paper, hosting recycling programs; and providing online registration and
    recording of time read for babies through high school.” The young adult program requires registering online. The children’s program is an optional online registration that is being encouraged but not required.

  5. Diane

    Hi Everyone! Don’t forget the topic of the ALSC Preconference in Anaheim is “Summer Reading Survivor.” Featured speakers include Judy Sierra, Pam Munoz Ryan, Stephen Krashen, and Harry Bliss. For more information please visit the ALSC Web site at and click on “Events and Conferences.”

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