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Summer Matters: Information about Partnering with Libraries
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Partnering with Libraries

California's public library summer reading programs help children and teens succeed. They:

  • help kids set and meet reading goals;
  • provide kids with books; and
  • offer fun and enriching activities that extend the reading experience.

Kids who take part in California's public library summer reading programs feel part of a community of readers and library users. And kids who read succeed. Summer reading programs are available free of charge at California's public libraries during the summer months. Visit your local library and talk to a librarian today to find out how to take part in the summer reading program.

About libraries

Libraries build lifelong relationships with the individuals and families in their communities, and staff is encouraged to interact with all patrons, making even a routine library visit a positive and personal experience.

Many library staff members have worked in their libraries for a long time, they know patrons by name, and patrons know the librarians' names. The staff turns as readily to the community for information as it does to its collections. Staff members believe in the power of community and believe that the community is its own best resource.

Youth services librarians aim to introduce children to new experiences, make literature come alive, and spark enthusiasm for reading and learning.

About public library summer reading programs

Summer reading programs have been presented in libraries for over one hundred years. Older patrons frequently have fond memories of the summer reading programs that they took part in when they were younger. Summer reading is a cornerstone of youth services programming and can be the biggest outreach effort of the year.

Through the summer reading program, librarians encourage youth to read for pleasure and enrichment, encourage families to feel welcome in the library and to visit regularly, and hope to help bridge the summer reading gap that adversely affects so many children. Librarians know that free voluntary reading, which is at the heart of the summer reading program, is the best way to improve reading and language development and develop lifelong readers.

During the summer, librarians increase their regular schedule of enrichment programming and offer increased numbers of neighborhood-based performances, arts and crafts opportunities, literacy- and science-based programs, special events and storytimes, all of which extend the reading experience.

Librarians also work with local groups and programs to take the summer reading program out to the community. Included in these groups are local day care providers, the Boys and Girls Club, and city-sponsored summer programs. Often, library staff will compile the summer reading materials and work with group leaders to facilitate the summer reading program out in the community.

Librarians welcome partnerships that give them direct access to local and underserved youth, particularly when the partnership can help the library engage the kids via unique and fresh outreach activities. Partnerships can enhance the potential for greater relationships with underserved youth, help the librarian get to know these students on a one-to-one basis, and can allow the student to get to know the library's resources.

Creating effective partnerships with libraries

Librarians welcome the opportunity to provide unique programming that compliments and enhances the goals of the library and the partnering organization. When librarians partner, they are looking for:

  • A shared understanding of the importance of reading for pleasure.
  • Partners who understand the role libraries can play in the lives of the children and communities they work with.
  • A commitment to literacy.
  • A willingness to engage in dialog about mutual needs and how best those needs can be met.
  • A mutual understanding of the goals of the partnership.
  • Involvement in the partnership-planning process.
  • Open and clear communication.
  • Contact information for all staff with whom they will be working.
  • Mutual respect for policies, procedures, and time.
  • Timely meetings to enable sufficient planning to take place.
  • Follow-through.
  • Flexibility.
  • A sense of humor.
  • An appreciation of the restrictions libraries may need to work within when developing the partnership, e.g. the size limitations of the library, any city- or county-mandated regulations, the need to balance competing needs of different community partners, and the need to plan early for summer to allocate staff time and other resources during this very busy period.