Alaina Johnson is a youth services librarian at R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury. Now that summer is drawing to a close (and she has some time to think!), she's sharing her perspective on why summer at the library is such a big deal.
There’s an almost magical quality to the first days of the library’s summer reading program. There is a jam-packed events calendar to look forward to. Kids and teens swarm the information desks with requests for favorite books and new recommendations. Eager teen volunteers begin arriving for their first shifts of the summer.
As my third summer as a youth services librarian at R.H. Stafford Library is drawing to a close, it’s time to reflect on this summer and begin preparing for summer 2019.
So why is summer such a big deal at the library? If you have visited any Washington County Library since June, you have seen firsthand how many kids, teens, and families choose to include us in their summer plans.
A big part of this is Summer at Your Library, a program for kids and teens where they can earn rewards for literacy and library-related activities. We all know they work hard throughout the school year to learn and build their reading skills, but if this doesn’t continue during the summer they can fall significantly behind.
The best way to combat summer reading loss is to make reading a habit all summer long. We encourage that by providing incentives and additional youth programming at all our libraries.
My first week of Summer at Your Library included organizing two regular storytimes, two outreach storytimes, and a comedy performance attended by over 200 people; kicking off our weekly teen program by making galaxy jars; hosting the Bakken Museum’s Frankenstein Science Program; and spending a Saturday afternoon running a Harry Potter Escape room!
In between running programs, I help patrons at the reference desk and manage the teen volunteer program. This fast pace is my favorite thing about summer. There’s so much to do, so many exciting challenges to tackle, and the rewards are great.
Summer programs at Washington County Library is the result of a lot of planning and collaboration among our youth services librarians. Technically, planning for summer 2019 begins right now. As we finalize statistics and take down décor, we are also reflecting on and discussing what we can do to make next year even better.
By the time December rolls around we begin scheduling our performers. We spend the spring months developing and sharing program plans, ordering materials, recruiting teen volunteers, and more. Most of the details must be finalized by the beginning of May, so we can spend time visiting local schools and promoting our programs to the community. Then, we get to see our all our planning in action and the cycle begins again.
All this work is worth it when a child comes up to recommend his favorite book to me. Or when a teen returns to tell me she just LOVED the book I recommended, and could she please put the rest of the series on hold? Or when a mom tells me her daughter is excited to wake up every Monday because she knows it’s time for storytime.
These are the moments I’ll be thinking about as I begin to plan for next summer. But don’t wait until then to visit us! We hope to see you in the library soon.