Sunday, August 25, 2013

Summer Programming 2013 edition: The review

So, summer is over (hellooooo fall programming!) and it's time to sit down and look at the numbers, the programs, and make some decisions about next summer while it's still fresh in my mind. Just a reminder, all my programs, links, documents, etc. are here.

Summer Reading Programs
  • Rubber Ducky Readers
    • 42 kids participated. Most of them left off their ages, so I can't tell specifics on that. A couple left off their names, and I assumed they were separate kids! 32 turned in June logs, 29 turned in July logs. I was aiming for 50, so I was not far off. Notes for next year - Despite the rubber ducky and sign on the box, many older kids took them as prizes. Not a big deal, but don't expect an accurate count from the prizes! I need to announce RDR in baby storytime every week, as many people came irregularly.
  • Dig into Reading
    • 470 kids participated. They turned in 1,963 bookmarks. The three elementary schools had about 100 kids each and the rest were from the middle school, outside of our school district, or under school age. 102 kids were ages 3-5 (and some toddlers who snuck in), 239 kids were ages 6-9 and 127 were ages 10-12.
    • Prizes. This year I mixed them up in the prize box, so kids could pick what they wanted, instead of only having one thing each week. It drives staff (and, ok, some parents) crazy waiting for them to choose, but I think choosing is one of the best parts! They could still turn in their last bookmark and get a prize after we ended, but most kids don't. It's just for the handful that come back late and panicked that they're going to miss their last prize.
      • We gave out 255 books (they're a prize only one week, so it depends who comes in that week. I have considered making it the first week prize, but I think people will still get confused back to when we gave out books at registration)
      • Hi-Bounce Balls from S&S Worldwide were our most popular prize. We gave out 467
      • Next most popular prizes included frog poppers, mini inflatable beach bags, color me hand puppets, mini playdough, bubbles, and fancy stickers.
      • Meh prizes - some kids liked them, some kids were meh, but they were cheap and we had a lot of them: Plastic snakes, wooden shapes to decorate, shark pencil toppers, and misc. stuff.
      • Prizes where they fell apart and I ended up throwing them away - cheap tire-shaped yoyos from S&S. Gotta remember, no moving parts!
  • Super Readers
    • 157 kids participated. Only 2 of them did Super Readers and not Dig into Reading, the rest did both, as intended. 130 of them completed the program, reading 14 hours. The rest read a combination, mostly 6 hours.
    • I had one parent complain that her kids didn't get the log at the beginning of summer, which is another justification for more staff since trying to run the summer reading program at the main information desk is really chaotic.
    • There was a lot of last-minute panic that we were going to run out of passes, but we didn't. Other than the county fair tickets, I had 200 of everything, so that was more than enough. I might keep the extra museum pass for the end next year, instead of giving them out the first week when kids "signed up".
  • The kids in these two programs read a combined total of 3,989 hours.
  • Teen summer reading. I only had about 20 kids participate in the past, but I let middle schoolers join this program this year (although they had to actually be in middle school, i.e. going into 7th grade next year at least) and we had 55 kids participate. They read 273 books and we gave out approximately 152 prizes, either books or candy. A lot of candy was, ahem, liberated though. I spent about $150 on this program, including the $25 Amazon gift certificate as the grand prize. You can see what the kids read here. It's just a sampling, but generally very little actual YA was read. Which kind of confirms what I have always secretly thought - it's mostly adults who read YA - and I'm going to cut my teen budget and JLG levels.
  • Daycare summer reading. 16 kids ages 3-9 participated at the daycare I visit during the school year. Next year I'm hoping to expand this program to include the large daycare in town, but that will mean having materials and prizes for over 100 kids, so it will depend if I'm able to put that together or not. I did two storytimes with them, at the beginning and the end, and took them 72 books to have over the summer.
  • Overall, the programs went really well. I would like to tweak the teens a little, maybe do something different than the grand prize, but that's it. June circulation was 12,994 (up from 11,333 in 2012) and July circulation was 13,896 (up from 11,431 in 2012). That's children's and YA materials only.

  • Our average program attendance last summer was 50. This year it was 35. That was what I was aiming for and much more manageable overall. We had 67 children's programs and an overall total of 2,365 attendance. People continued to participate in 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, reading over 3,000 books in June and about 2,000 books in July.
  • We also had 4 teen programs with a total of 36 attendees. Meh, it was ok. 10 kids came to see the Hobbit, some more kids wandered in to play Wii games, and 7 girls came to Girls Night Out. Moving it to August really dropped attendance, but I simply can't handle another prep-heavy program in June or July. I will need to do more marketing on this next year.
  • My big, fancy programs went from 100+ to an average of 60, since I required registration this year. I am very happy with that and feel that with only one staff member (me) assisted by a couple teen aides who are also supposed to be shelving etc. that's really all I can handle.
  • I only had a few outreach things this summer, other than the 2 visits to the daycare. I did my 5 back-to-back storytimes at summer school 1, but wasn't booked for summer school 2 (which was totally fine with me). I agreed to do something for our town's Festival of Summer, but it was rained out so we hung out in the library instead, again, fine by me. We had 42 animals for our stuffed animal sleepover.
  • Program breakdown
    • Preschool Interactive: 8 programs, 206 attendance
    • We Explore: 6 programs, 146 attendance
    • Messy Art Club: 3 programs,  111 attendance
    • Lego Club: 5 programs,  227 attendance
    • Storywagon
      • Creepy Crawly Zoo: 105
      • Puppet Story Theater: 80
      • Duke Otherwise: 82
      • Great Scott (magician): 118
    • Kick-off program, Welty Environmental Center: 60
    • Dance into Summer with Ella Bella Ballerina: 74
    • Angry Birds party: 68
    • Nature's Niche (live animal show): 100
    • Ending party, Book Experience: 43
    • Miss Pattie's storytimes
      • Tiny Tots (evening storytime): 4 programs, 85 attendance
      • Toddlers 'n' Books 10am session: 8 programs, 248 attendance
      • Toddlers 'n' Books 11am session: 8 programs,  175 attendance
      • Books 'n' Babies, storytime/playgroup: 7 programs, 287 attendance
Thoughts for next summer
  • Unless I get a summer assistant, which is an unlikely but beautiful dream of mine, I am seriously thinking about dropping Preschool Interactive next summer. Attendance is variable and it's a time-intensive program, so I think that's the best one to drop. I'm going to focus on having summer programs that are modeled around the after school clubs - things where lots of people can drop in, do something, and take off again. It's easy to forget over the months how crazy things were, so I am writing a note now to remind myself of how exhausting and frustrating summer can be. I did cut back in a couple areas, and need to remember to continue to do that, but there's simply too much for one person so something has to go.
  • I only did three outreach things over the summer - two visits to the daycare I had set up as my test site for the daycare summer reading and one visit to summer school. The bigger daycare brings kids to the library (this is not a planned thing, I'll just look out the window and see 20-40 kids disembarking from the bus. However, they are well-supervised and well-behaved and the teachers don't expect me to do tours or programs or anything, so it's all cool.) Could I do more outreach? Yes, but I think that will also be off the plate unless I get lots of assistants. I need to be in the library as much as possible over summer.
  • I know I said I wasn't going to change anything more, and I think I'm at a really good place with summer reading, but I might need to review the teen program. Only about 5 of the participants were 15 or older (this is a guess, since I don't have all their ages, but I do know most of them). The vast majority of participants were middle school kids. They were really excited that I let them join the teen program, as most of them feel the regular program is too young for them. However, this does mean the program was a lot more expensive - not only did I have to buy enough candy for up to 25 kids to get prizes each week, a lot of it when I wasn't watching. We also had a problem with the grand prize Amazon gift card which I don't think would have been an issue with an older winner. I think some of the thrill of being in the "teen" program might diminish if I call it something else, but I might just leave off the grand prize or do something different. Not sure what. We are going to have to move the prize table back up for the librarians to watch though, if I don't have someone at the children's desk consistently.
  • I'd really like to make a big push for more participation in summer reading. I have about 23% of the elementary-aged students in our town involved, but it could be higher! There are a lot of things I could do, but again it depends on staffing. I do think I can have my aides do more next year, since they will both be trained and a lot of the other staff issues we had (hopefully) won't exist. I want to get more marketing out and about town, maybe have someone at the grocery store fun day to hand out registration again, etc.
Final thought: In looking back on my summer reading goals and thoughts, I found this from my first solo summer reading program in 2009, when I first starting creating my own programs. These are the three goals I had for my library and myself during the summer.
  1. Encourage all children, especially reluctant readers, to read, including family and independent readers. Therefore, we need attainable goals and incentives.
  2. The prizes shouldn't outweigh the reading.
  3. Every child gets their own book.
This was my sixth summer reading program, counting the one I did when I first came, and I think these are still great goals and we're doing a good job of meeting them.

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