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Virtual Summer Reading Program a huge success

Every summer the Boyle County Public Library provides the community with an exciting Summer Reading Program (SRP), complete with reading prizes, fun activities, and special events. 

The planning team had already finalized details for this summer in early March when the impact of COVID-19 hit the region. With widespread closures and the uncertainty of when the library would be allowed to reopen again, the SRP team completely re-imagined how the summer reading program would function virtually so the community could still participate safely.

Through the Beanstack website and app, participants could earn badges, free books, and raffle tickets for grand prize drawings. Every participant who completed a reading challenge had a chance to win one of the grand prizes, which included “Buy Boyle” gift certificates and Amazon Fire tablets. 

The app encouraged families to participate together and could be used anytime.

The reimagined virtual program not only worked well, it surpassed the previous years’ reading and giveaways making it the most successful summer reading program the library ever hosted. Over 600 people used Beanstack this summer for the program. Nearly 400 completed the reading challenges set by the library. 

Young kids could read five chapter books or 20 picture books to earn their prizes. Tweens, teens, and adults were challenged to read for 10 days. Over 1,400 reading challenges were completed this summer, which set a new record of reading by participants for the library’s long running summer program. 

There was also a new record set of prize books given away, which meant participants were able to add more new books to their homes. In total, the library gave away over 1,170 new books to readers of all ages during the program this summer. 

“I am so proud of our library and community for their involvement with the summer reading program this year,” said Youth Services Librarian Kinsey Hisle. “What makes our hard work worth it is knowing readers of all ages enjoyed our program this year, during an otherwise tough summer. We hope we brought something enjoyable to our community and they definitely brought joy to us this summer.”

This year there was an impressive increase in the number of adult participants in the summer reading program. Public Services Librarian Caleb Conover reported that over 170 adult readers, including homebound participants from the outreach program, completed at least one challenge, logging a combined total of over 7,500 days of reading. 

“I was excited to see how many adult readers engaged with our Summer Reading program this year, especially since we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Conover. “Last year, we had just over 60 readers complete the reading challenge. This year, that number more than doubled. While it was a lot of work and stressful to account for changes wrought by the pandemic, it was all worth it to see so many people actively engaged in reading this summer – both individual readers and those participating as a family.” 

 

Outreach Services Associate Dana Benton helped participants in senior residential facilities by logging their reading for them so they could earn new prize books. Almost 60 homebound patrons participated in summer reading with 90% of them completing at least one reading challenge and earning prize books.

Due to the great success and response from the community, the library plans to use Beanstack to host more challenges and activities throughout the rest of the year.

 

Virtual Programs

In addition to the Beanstack reading challenges, the SRP team provided many virtual events throughout the summer months, including STEAM labs, storytimes, “take and make” KidStir activities, cooking demonstrations, “Creature Feature” videos from UK Entomology, a magic show from Mark Wood, Kids Yoga video series, and a live interactive event with Aladdin and Jasmine. Library staff also made numerous how-to videos that remain available on the library’s YouTube channel. 

The Outreach librarians faced a daunting challenge as they formulated a plan to reach their patrons. Typically, the outreach team serves residential facilities, day cares, and homebound residents. With buildings either closed completely or in quarantine, the team found ways to provide virtual activities and assist their patrons in downloading digital books. 

Outreach Services Librarian Jana Oliver took the Bookmobile “on the road” for “Ms. Jana’s Traveling Tales,” where she filmed virtual storytimes at a variety of locations including a tree house, a fishing hole, and a flower garden. These storytimes were shared on the Library’s Facebook pages for all to enjoy. 

Throughout the summer, Outreach Services Associate Dana Benton visited virtually with residents at Morning Pointe, Parkview, and McDowell Place to host programs including trivia and writing workshops. As restrictions began to ease, the outreach team was also able to deliver books to their homebound patrons. 

The library is thankful for the Friends of the Library and their support of the summer reading program. Their generous contributions provided funding for SRP prizes and special virtual events.

What’s Next?

With the conclusion of the summer reading program, the programming staff will take the next few weeks to regroup and plan for the fall. While in-person programming is still uncertain at this point, the library will look for ways to support local schools as they begin the academic year virtually. Digital resources are available for free through the library’s website, including Tutor.com, Tumble Books, KYVL, Scholastic Go, EBSCO Learning Express, and NoveList.

Virtual programs, such as Adult Dungeons and Dragons, will continue and new programs will be added. More information about upcoming library events can be found at www.BoylePubLib.org or by calling the library at (859) 238-7323. 

The Boyle County Public Library serves the city of Danville and the surrounding communities, and is actively committed to enriching the lives of its patrons. The library is located at 307 West Broadway in Danville