Saturday, August 6, 2011

Week 8: The Last Week of Summer Reading

The end has come! As of today, my Summer Reading Club is over -- and it's been exhausting and exhilarating and every other emotion possible. We had our last couple of programs, and we're opening our prize store one more time on Saturday next week for kids to pick out prizes. Because of that, I don't have my final registration or completion numbers yet, but I will next week and I'll be posting a huge final rundown of the entire summer, including my plans for improving next year's program.

This week though, we had a couple programs.

Monday was Lego Club, as has been all summer long, and we had one of our bigger turnouts, too. We had 24 show up, and almost every single one was a boy. I love this. It's such a perfect group for boys, and they're all so nice to one another while they're there.

Tuesday, which is our usual all ages programming day, was a non-programming day for me. I used the opportunity to take inventory of all my programming supplies for the fall, since I'm already figuring out what I need. I got a $500 grant, and I plan on using it to bulk up on art supplies for a fall program I'm going to try out. It was a nice, zen activity to do, and I'm eager to finish this job up in the next week or two. I thrive on cleanliness and organization, so the mess that came with summer has been begging for that attention.

We made up for our no program Tuesday with our big end-of-summer program on Wednesday. Jennifer had suggested we do this program early in the year, and it's one I was so pleased with that I would consider doing again in a heartbeat. I'm not much of a name-the-performer person on this blog for many reasons, but I definitely will say that any library who can, should consider bringing out Dino from Nature's Niche for a program. He brought out a ton of live exotic animals and presented about the animals, how he came to rescue them and rehabilitate them, and he really engaged the kids in the program. They got to be involved, and they got to touch or hold nearly everything. We had over 85 kids show up for the program -- all ages -- and we drew in a lot of people who just happened by the library that morning, which was wonderful. Not only did he engage the kids, his program was longer than most. It went for nearly 2 hours, which was huge bang for the buck.

After the program, one of the dads I knew from Lego Club came up and told me he didn't even think to bring his camera and write about this for the paper. But he gave me his email, and we'll get a nice little piece in the local paper about the program, too. That was one of the things I didn't think enough about this summer and one of the changes for next year. Alas -- I got some fantastic pictures of the kids with the animals, and I'm thrilled the community will get to see some of them. The ones here are of a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (my favorite animal of the day which, indeed, I did pet!) and my second favorite, the little alligator who liked being held like a baby. He apparently feels very soft, except if you rub his tail the wrong way. That apparently feels like a razor blade (I let the kids enjoy that one, so I didn't get to confirm this first hand).

Thursday, we had our last teen program of the summer, which was a teen Lego Club. We had a low turnout for the program, and none of the kids who were begging me to run this program for them showed up. It happens. But the boys who did come had a good time, and their conversations were hilarious to listen to. And surprisingly, they made less violent Lego creations than the younger kids usually do.

Friday was a no program day, but since I worked the reference desk half the day, I got the chance to check kids in and dole out prize dollars. It was fun to reward the kids who worked hard all summer, and I actually got a compliment from one of the parents saying how fun the program had been and how much her kids enjoyed it. After a summer that feels like it drags and feels like it's one disaster after another, hearing that from a parent really felt nice. She'd approached me before about my style of programming and how different it was from my predecessor and from the people in neighboring libraries, and her kids liked how laid back I was. Refreshing!

In my down time this week, I did a lot of brain storming on improvements for the next summer reading club, and I can't wait to share them, along with my final numbers. I already know my teen programming attendance has increased significantly from the part two years, though this year it seems my all ages programming numbers have dropped a bit (though their registration numbers are the same). I think there's a few reasons for it, which I'll hit upon next week.

That said, this has been one huge sigh of relief. I'm so glad the summer reading program is over, and though this has been my third summer reading club, this felt like the most challenging because I was taking care of the entire youth program, from birth to 18, rather than from 12 to 18. And honestly, I've begun to question my own feelings about summer reading clubs in general. That's not to say I don't think it has a value, but I think that sort of gets diminished in the everyday management/administrative aspects of the program. It's given me a lot to think about for doing some new things in the future, that's for sure.

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