Resources to help libraries set and achieve outcome two
Which groups should I reach out to?
Keep in mind that the first stage of outcome-based programming is a needs assessment process. We encourage librarians to look systematically at their own communities and determine which groups of children and teens have not participated in large numbers - or at all - in previous years.
If you're not sure who to target, CLA has developed tips and guidelines to help you conduct a needs assessment and identify underserved groups in your community.
Feel free to select a group that you already have a connection with if that group is still underserved.
Groups that have been identified as underserved by participating libraries include the following (please remember that this list is not exhaustive and that your own underserved communities may be different from the communities you see here):
- Boys (underrepresented in all data about summer reading, particularly teens)
- Children and teens from families with low socio-economic status
- Children from a particular homeless shelter
- Children from a particular school
- Teen mothers and fathers
- Children involved in a local summer day camp
- Non-English-speaking children and teens.
- Children of Non-English speakers
- Children from a domestic violence shelter
- Continuation schools
- LGBT teens
- Children with disabilities
- Juvenile detention centers
- Court-ordered volunteers
- Computer users in the library (who often do not engage with the book collection)
How many people should I reach out to?
It is important to set realistic goals for outcome 2, especially if you are not used to reaching out with your summer reading program.
We are not expecting most libraries to target large numbers for this outcome; in some cases, it might be as small as “five teen mothers” or “ten children from the homeless shelter.”
Consider targeting just a few people in the first year. Set your results as your benchmark data and aim to increase the number of participants from your target group each year.
What does reaching out with the summer reading program mean?
Reaching out to an underserved group with the summer reading program means more than simply taking out summer reading flyers and inviting the group to come to the library, or taking out summer reading logs and signing people up for the program.
The key to successful outreach is doing something to make it work. Here are some suggestions of ways to help you engage your targeted group with the library:
- To reach new populations with the summer reading program you may need to take the summer reading program to them, rather than requiring them to come to the library. Develop a “summer reading in a box” with reading logs, incentives, and library materials, and take the program out of the library.
- Tailor your marketing efforts to the needs of the group you are reaching out to. You may need to make personal contacts with social workers or recreation leaders, and children and teens who have been reluctant library users in the past may need your personal encouragement to take part in the summer reading program.
- Provide your group with tailored information about the library so they can see the value of becoming more involved with the library.
- If you are reaching out to a group that has a relationship with a community leader (e.g. recreation leaders), involve that leader in introducing the library to the group. The introduction will carry more weight when it is endorsed by someone who is trusted by the group.
- If you are targeting children, the key will always be to make connections with the adults who work and/or interact with them.
- Develop summer programs that are tailored specifically to the needs and desires of your targeted group. If this might be one of the first times the group visits the library, make sure you offer them a fun, memorable, and relevant experience that will make them want to come back!
- You might develop a special tour of the library to show them how they can make the most of your resources and why they might want to start using the library. You could make the tour fun by organizing an event such as a scavenger hunt to help them find out about the library’s resources.
- If you are targeting an organized group (e.g. children from a particular homeless shelter or summer day camp) don’t forget to provide a library orientation for staff from those organizations so that they can advocate for the library with the children and make better use of the library’s resources.
- Offer special summer reading incentives tailored to the members of your targeted group, e.g., baby and children’s books for teen parents.
- Make the group feel part of the library: if you do an art project with a group outside the library, display the art in the library to encourage them and their families to visit and help them feel that they belong.
- To help engage different community groups with the library’s summer reading program, invite local groups to participate in large library events such as a carnival or kick-off party. Such groups might include the Boys and Girls Club, Girl Scouts, Unity Council, Senior Centers, Blood Bank, Water Agency, Air Museum, Art Museum, baseball club, local radio station and newspaper. Each group could have its own area to decorate and provide activities and will be able to promote your program to their constituents.
- If the Parks Department, or other local organization, is also hosting programs in the summer, cross-promote your activities and offer prizes for attendance at one another’s programs.
- Find out what other programs or festivals are taking place in the community and how you can take part in them and promote summer reading to new audiences.
The Los Angeles Public Library takes its summer reading program out to community groups using Group Kits. Each kit includes: (a) one group game board; (b) one pack of stickers (25 sheets); (c) one sign-up sheet; (d) 30 dream tickets; and (e) a list of suggested activities that kids can complete to earn stars. Everything fits into a 9" x 12" manila envelope and eack kit serves 25 kids. The instructions for group leaders are on the game board. Sometimes group leaders visit the library to pick up summer reading prizes, and sometimes the librarian takes prizes out to the group. Examples from the 2012 group kit are below. If you have questions, please contact Eva Mitnick, Coordinator of Children's Services.