Adult Summer Reading Sees 1500% Participation Increase!

Adult Summer Reading Sees 1500% Participation Increase!

Like many public librarians, our team has struggled to boost attendance at adult programsover the last few years. We play the guessing game – offering classes and programs that ourpatrons say they want, even bringing in guest presenters – and often have only 2-5 people in attendance. Sometimes not even that many. But still, we press on.


This year, we decided to do something a little different with our summer reading
program. In previous years, we had offered a BINGO style program, where participants had to
complete tasks related to the summer reading theme. Each completed bingo sheet entered
participants into a drawing for a grand prize! We know – not the greatest idea ever. But with a
small budget, we tried to make do.

After a measly 16 participants last year, we knew something needed to change. We
modeled this year’s program after our children and teen’s program. This program offers three
levels – each level requires ten hours of reading or listening to an audiobook. For each level
completed, we gave away mini prizes (buttons, 3-D printed keychains, etc), and participants
were also entered into a drawing for mega prizes: a choice between family (5 grand prize
options) or adult (10 grand prize options). So if you’d prefer a family pass to the Zoo instead of a
Kindle Fire, you could opt in for the family prize drawing. Pretty neat, right? We thought so.

And yet, even with these neat features, we had no idea how popular this program would
be. As I said before, we had 16 participants last year. Sixteen – that’s it. So we planned prizes for
50 participants, thinking that we were dreaming big. You can imagine our surprise when, near
the end of June, we had completely run out of level prizes. Keep in mind, our summer reading
program is only two months long: June 1-July 31. We spent the last five weeks of the program
scrambling to get some sort of small prize for level completions, just to make the program
somewhat fair to the participants. Finally, at the end of the program, we tallied up all the
numbers and, again to our surprise, we had a total of 255 participants in the adult program alone.
That’s almost a 1500% increase in participation!

None of this would have been possible without the amazing staff and volunteers who
worked tirelessly to solicit donations from businesses, advertise the program, and help our
patrons. We have an incredible youth and adult services staff, in addition to our endlessly patient
circulation staff. And even though Summer Reading just ended, we are excited to see what the
next year brings – and this time we will be ready.

For more information about Caldwell's Adult Summer Reading program contact Marina Rose at or 208-459- 3242 x3

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