Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Reading: Week Two

I'm a week behind in wrapping up summer reading, so this week, there will be two in a row. This is for week two, where we got to do a lot of really exciting programs.

First, the stats: I took my counts last Thursday morning, and we had 75 teens signed up for summer reading, 252 youth age 4-12, and 51 pre-readers. That's nearly 400 people signed up already, which is almost what last year's numbers were all summer long, and we're only on week two. It feels wonderful!

We ran our regular Lego and Games club on Monday, where we had 27 attendees (up from the week before). I keep this program extremely low key, and I think that's part of why it's successful. We don't have a theme, and all I do is dump out a couple tubs of Legos on the floor and drag in a box of board games. This time, no one played games but instead, they all concentrated on making epic Lego creations.

On Tuesday, we had one of our performers who is brought in through our library system. We do all of our big programs outside under a tent, since our building's meeting room has very limited capacity. The weather looked chancey all day, but we had 97 attendees. The storyteller was a bit of a disappointment, saying she didn't need anything when really she needed a sound system (which we have). She wasn't super engaged with the kids, and she wasn't observant of what was going on around her, either. The sky grew very dark about half way through the performance, and our summer camp crew (which brings in 25-30 kids to the event) just left. After they left, so did everyone else, and the performance was cut way short. It was a little embarrassing on our end, but I'd rather the 97 attendees be safe from the weather than stay and not be. We ended up having some wicked storms from that point onto the rest of the day.

On Wednesday, we had a combined tween/teen program, where we brought in author Siobhan Vivian to do a writing workshop. There was a lot of stress to get her out here, actually, as the weather that impacted our performer on Tuesday also impacted her flight into Wisconsin. After a lot of tears and profanity on the phone, we snagged her a very early flight to Chicago Wednesday morning, where she rented a car and drove up. She did a program at three libraries that day, and I'm extremely pleased to say we drew 29 attendees. Each person who came who didn't already have a copy of her book Same Difference was able to get one, and they all got them signed after the performance. I also made everyone mini notebooks to keep, which featured the program name, date, and thank yous to our sponsors. I plan on talking about this event in more detail in another post, since it was such a great event.

After the event, I took a small group of my book club kids out for dinner with Siobhan, as well. They talked about the restaurant they ate at, and the way Siobhan talked to them about it made it so cool for the kids to see how questions can spark creativity and stories. It's one of those things I know the kids won't forget -- for them, this was meeting someone famous, and it was meeting someone who was interested in hearing their stories, too.

Thursday, I did an extremely easy program for just the teens -- ice cream creations. I cleaned out our staff kitchen, which had many half-full boxes of candy, cookies, sprinkles and more from various programs, including the candy bottle guessing game, then I made a run to the store to pick up 5 large tubs of ice cream. I also picked up a jug of chocolate sauce and a couple other sauces, a bunch of bananas, and laid out bowls, spoons, and scoops. Then, we opened the doors and told the teens to have fun. We had 29 show up for this super easy and relatively inexpensive program, and many of these attendees were the kinds of kids we'd never see in the library. All for free ice cream, indeed. But you know what? It got them in. We had a little drama with this program in policing the age of attendees, as the very young kids wanted in; we tempered this by telling the older kids to bring a scoop of ice cream out to their siblings after they ate.

Friday was our storytime, but I was on a plane down to New Orleans for the American Library Association conference, feeling pretty pleased with program attendance and signups this week. I feel like I know some of the areas where I can improve for the future, but for now, it's straight on to week three, which you'll hear about in the next couple of days.

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