Outcome two: Underserved community members participate in the summer reading program
“At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better. It’s an enormous force for good.” (Barack Obama)1
Both anecdotal evidence and research studies have shown that summer reading participants tend to be regular library users and/or children and teens who tend to be motivated toward reading and capable readers.2, 3 Outcome two challenges and helps libraries to (a) identify target groups of underserved children, teens, adults or families who have not traditionally participated in the library’s summer reading program, and (b) devise strategies for bringing them into the library—or for bringing the library to them.
The value of public library summer reading programs in addressing summer learning loss is well-documented. By reaching out to underserved groups who do not traditionally participate in the summer reading program, and by engaging community members who are not regular library users, who are not easily able to visit the library, and who are not capable readers, libraries can help ensure that their summer reading programs reach their potential, and remain relevant and impactful.
The outcomes is phrased as an output, but it actually indicates a change in behavior in the target group. Participating libraries identify locally both the groups they wish to target and the number of peope they hope to reach within those groups.
Libraries and community
In the section on outcome one, we discuss libraries and community. Many specialists in child and youth development talk about the importance of building a web of community supports to help families engage in the increasingly difficult task of raising healthy kids. The public library can be a critical node in that web of community supports. Summer reading programs can help to draw people of all ages into that web so they can be nurtured by it and can be enabled to nurture others as well.
We believe that by being proactive about proclaiming the library’s important role in community building, we will build political capital at the same time that we are serving our patrons. Because we believe that this is such an important part of our mission, we are also committed to reaching out to those members of our community who have not yet found their way to us. President Obama’s words apply equally to children, teens, adults, and families. The outreach outcome is intended to institutionalize our ongoing efforts to open our hearts and minds and doors to every man, woman, and child in our service areas.
1. From a speech given by Barack Obama to the American Library Association in 2005. Available at: http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/resources/selectedarticles/obama05.cfm.
2. Laura M. Justice, Shayne B. Piasta, Janet L. Capps, Stephanie R. Levitt, and Columbus Metropolitan University (2013): Library-Based Summer Reading Clubs: Who Participates and Why? Libary Quarterly, 83:4, 321-340
3. Susan Roman, Deborah T. Carran, and Carole D. Fiore, The Dominican Study: Public Library Summer Reading Programs Close the Reading Gap (River Forest, IL: Dominican University Graduate School of Library & Information Science, 2010), 1, accessed August 16, 2010