Daily Archives: May 30, 2012

Are Summer Reading Programs Also Irrelevant?

I suspect that this is a controversial topic, and since ‘Tis the season’ for summer reading, let’s see how controversial. A library director friend told me that in some places the summer reading programs are still a good thing, although in these times of reduced budgets she sometimes wonders. But, moreover, summer reading is one of those sacred cow things that public libraries still do blindly. She noted that the program use to create a bridge between school years in which there was a recommended reading list for age groups to help them continue to read and not lose ground during summer months. Supposedly, it also helped kids start on that next level of reading.

Another friend commented to me that maybe this summer kids would either be reading on their Kindle or laying on a blanket under a tree with a good book, and wondered which option they would choose. She knew which option she would choose, but it’s really hard to find a shady tree with nice grass, the smell of flowers and a soft breeze. Ah, the good old days…….

Many of today’s local public library summer reading programs are driven from a national level through a consortium of states that support Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) Aren’t summer reading NEEDS local, based on the local school’s assessment?

(I would have used their CSLP logo here, but they have their website locked down with a message that says their images are copyrighted, so….)

Used to be the summer reading lists were created in partnership with local school librarians. Is that still happening? Anywhere? Or, has summer reading become an excuse for libraries to give kids some cheap piece of plastic toy or gold star and say they read a few pages? Are any summer reading programs using technology, or eBooks, or mobile devices to enhance technology literacy? Personally, I suspect there is little or no thought as to whether a nationally developed summer reading program will benefit MY community. Is summer reading just one of those ‘library things’ that comes around every year to justify the library’s existence and increase gate count during the summer, so why put any more thought or resources into it than necessary?

Any program that is continued because ‘we’ve always done it’, is the worst justification for the expenditure of library resources that ever existed. A 21st Century Library meets the needs of their local community. Does a national program meet your local needs? Do you even know what your local needs are? Should summer reading be placed on the Zombie Librarianship list?


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