Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Adult Summer Reading Programs

Coming soon in the July/August issue of Public Libraries Journal! "Not Just for the Kids: Promoting Library Services through Adult Summer Reading Programs" by Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly

I am very excited to report that one of our articles has been accepted for publishing in Public Libraries journal! I spoke on this topic at an MLA Summer Reading Program Workshop in December 2007.

Many public libraries offer summer reading programs for adults. That's a great first step! It encourages family literacy and models good reading behavior to children. It also provides an outlet for lifelong learning, a love of libraries, and something fun to do in the summer.

I have been paying attention to the adult summer reading programs offered by various libraries. It seems to me that adults are expected to jump through a lot more hoops to be successful in the program than children are. They are required to read a book per week, get a certificate stamped every week, read several books in each genre, and write book reviews. Let's be honest - adults are busy. They have to keep track of their children's lives, their households, and their jobs. Add the fact that they now have to keep track of their children's summer reading logs and event sign-ups and they just don't have time or inclination to put effort into one more thing.

Our approach is to keep the adult program as simple as possible. It is not the regular library users that we need to worry about. Adults who read a lot will continue to read a lot with or without a summer reading program. Our goal is to introduce adults to library services and collections that they might not be aware of, such as cookbooks, atlases, DVDs, downloadable audio books, events, and reader's advisory services. These are the kinds of things that we put on our Book Bingo game for adults. (Please read the article for a complete description of our program.)

I would love to see more libraries embrace the Adult Summer Reading Program as an opportunity to market their events, programs, services, technology, staff, and facilities.

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