Blogger Kelley Beeson

Technology and SRCs: Hub vs. Heart

Recently, there have been a number of intriguing conversations in the KidLib blogosphere around summer reading and why we do it.  My interest piqued when I read Transliteracy in Your Summer Reading Program by Gretchen Caserotti at the Libraries and Transliteracy blog.  I learned about another thought-provoking blog post about SRC over at Hi Miss Julie: Summer Reading, Pain in My… it includes some tasty comments that led to even more posts about summer reading here and here.  If you have a minute or two, those posts are rather inspiring.

As many of you know by now, I get pretty excited around technology.  I get especially excited about technology in SRCs.  I’m definitely in the ‘let’s rework that sacred cow of summer reading club’ camp.  I really believe SRCs need to change.  And pretty drastically. Families are different.  Society is different.  And not to mention literacy is now literacies. We have a real opportunity responsibility to move SRCs into the 21st century.   And counting graphic novels doesn’t go far enough.

Technology, in its fancy red cape, to the rescue!

Now, don’t start wringing your hands, technology need not be the heart of summer activities at the library, but it can be the hub.  Technology can allow some deep changes in our SRCs to be pretty easy on staff and pretty fun for the kids.

Ann Arbor is a great example of how to make that happen.  They have reinvented SRC in the form of  The Summer Game and notice reading is not in the title.  Their website allows participants, on the Leaderboard, to see the kids who are really rockin’ and exactly what they’ve done.  How better to inspire kids then through the activities of other kids!  As well, NYPublic, Brooklyn and Queens have all linked arms and created something similar at  By enticing kids with a pretty cool and customizable online site where participants can create an avatar and a profile, they’ve created a fun way for kids to connect with other kids.  Both Ann Arbor and the NY-trifecta offer electronic badges (think Girl Scouts) for completing tasks – whether they read a book, write a review, tag a book on the library catalog, or (gasp!) watch a movie. According to the Ann Arbor KidLibs,  the kids really get into the competition for badges.

In our county, I’m interested in creating a county-wide game where our libraries partner with all kinds of arts/sports/cultural organizations to allow kids the chance to engage in local activities and various literacies.  I found this recently, a Summer Tooning Story Contest with an iPad app called Toontastic.  The more elements like these that we can add to our SRCs, the more literacies kids are going to develop.  As Pam Sandlian-Smith from the Anythink Libraries in Denver, CO (they’ve also switched their SRC up with the tagline, Read Think DO) suggested on a recent visit to Pittsburgh, reading is just the beginning.  Ideally, reading starts kids (and adults!) on a journey and SRCs are wonderfully poised to connect kids in meaningful ways to their world.  At the heart of these 3 SRCs is connection.  Libraries connecting kids with themselves, with information, with experiences, with each other.  And their online hubs are a kind of campfire, if you will, where everyone comes together to share their stories.

I’m ready with my stick and marshmellows, are you?  I’d love to hear what you think of these ideas/rants/comments/snarly suggestions.

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