So our summer plan is shaping up. We’ve decided to totally forgo a kickoff (gasp!) and just jump right in. Last month (in Part II) I asked some questions about tracking and registration. After some discussion here at my library, we’ve decided to cut the registration completely. We’re not asking anyone their name, age, school, email or address. It’s a risk, but we’re willing to try it out. I think one of the irritations for families is the registration process which (if you’re anything like the libraries in my county) seems to change every single year. So we’re just going to let people start reading! And as registration goes hand in hand with tracking, we’ve also given some serious thought to the tracking process. That can be quite a drag too for many families. So instead of having families record their reading in any of the traditional models (online, paper form, etc.) we’re doing it like this:
- Each age group in our library will be assigned a color (read-to-me, school age, middle grade, teen and even adult!) and we’ll have 5 bins of Lego organized by color at the circ desk.
- People will come to the library when they’re ready for more books. They’ll tell our friendly circ staff how many books they’ve just finished (library books and/or non-library books!) and then they’ll grab that amount of Lego in their corresponding color and head off to add to our communal Lego structure.
- We’ll have this Lego structure running all summer long (through Labor Day) somewhere in the library for the public to watch grow.
Here’s what I think will be fascinating and super-cool about this approach: at the end of the season, we’ll have an amazing 3D info-graphic-structure that will provide us with a nice snapshot of how the community read this summer! If you can picture it, they’ll probably be a ton of one color (picture books, read to me), a good amount of another color (school age) and probably a smattering (or more!) of the other colors (middle grade, teen, adult). In my own reading life, I have to say, as an adult, I’d be pretty excited about participating in this kind of thing. No hassle but something interactive nonetheless to be a part of. We’re also thinking that we can get some teens to count each color at summer’s end.
As you can imagine, we’re doing away with prizes as well. Again, our thinking on this is that we really want, as librarians, to stand firm on the fact that reading should be its own reward. And in that same vein, we’ll be keeping a cart of free books near the Lego structure so that kids/teens can take a free book when they reach their own reading goal(s). So we have really pared down our infrastructure on this program. I like to think we’re allowing reading to take a bit of a back seat to what we think is becoming an even stronger focus of summer: learning. So we’re also changing the name. It’s now our Summer Learning Program (SLP). Next month: let’s talk programming!
I know there are plenty of other schools of thought on this and I want to hear them! What do you think about this disruptive stuff vs. the traditional SRP model?