Our library celebrates its 150th birthday this year, and as a gift to the community we created a book of 150 reading challenges, which replaced the Adult Summer Reading club we have done in previous years. Our intention was to create a marketing piece for the library that would showcase our collections and share our enthusiasm with everyone who uses the library. Erin Watkins, our Manager of Programs and Community Development, was instrumental in getting this off the ground. Thanks, Erin!
This is what we discovered while putting the booklet together:
Many hands make light work. We had staff from multiple areas of the library contribute ideas for the challenges, but we had one person compile them. This allowed for diverse interests, collection areas and material types, which we hoped would appeal to a broader range of our community. The challenges were meant to encompass all aspects of our library’s collection in as many formats as possible to inspire people to move beyond their tried and true reading, viewing, and listening habits. Literacy is not just about books, and having the challenges touch on multiple formats will give people a chance to explore areas of the library that they may have previously ignored or been uninterested in. Having staff from all over the library contribute really helped set the groundwork for the challenges. Having one staff member compile the results was a way to ensure we kept to task and made it to our goal of 150 challenges – one for each year the library has been in existence.
Enthusiasm helps! Staff enthusiasm for a project like this helps us all see how diverse our colleagues and their interests are, which makes the workplace a fun place to be. It also means that we are better able to use that knowledge in a readers’ advisory situation because if we don’t share the reading interests of the patron in front of us, we can certainly find someone who does.
More heads are better than one. Collaborative work meant that wrangling 150 challenges into a semblance of order so they could be put into a booklet was much more effective. It also established a way for us to riff off each other’s ideas and build on each other’s work. One of the most exciting aspects of this format meant we could move beyond the familiar territory of the Adult Summer Reading club booklist and offer book bingo, a crossword puzzle, and a drawing challenge as well.
We have built in social media components in terms of a section of the challenge being called “Share” where we encourage community members to share their challenges with us on social media, and we have already had some really fun contributions for community members.
If you are thinking of doing something similar at your library, don’t hesitate! Not only will it reinvigorate your passion for connecting with library users, but it will empower you to learn even more about the collection in your own library and inspire your own reading/viewing/listening habits. We can’t wait for the conversations we’re going to have with our library users: in the stacks, at the desk, on social media – all about what we love to watch, read, and listen to. It’s going to be a great summer!
What are your plans for adult summer reading inspiration at your library? Comment below so we can all be inspired!
Shelley Wilson-Roberts is the Public Services Librarian II at the New Westminster Public Library.