Posted in Accessibility, Partnerships, Program, Teens

Take Summer Reading to the Streets

Program Description: Too often the best library programs never reach the kids most in need. We may be from Iowa, but we know that “if you build it, they will come” isn’t always true. So we found a way to go to them. Discover how the Cedar Rapids (IA) Public Library moved beyond its walls to reach children with barriers to traditional library access through strategic partnerships and volunteer support. Adapt this award-winning program to fit your community.


Jessica Link, Volunteer Coordinator , Cedar Rapids Public Library , Cedar Rapids , IA. Jessica coauthored an article in Public Libraries Magazine’s March/April 2016 issue about summer volunteer engagement.

Kevin Delecki, Programming Manager, Cedar Rapids Public Library, Cedar Rapids, IA

Handouts: Handout 1, Handout 2

My notes: 

The equation goes something like this. Partners have access to the kids + volunteers have the legs that bring the program to the kids + the library has the resources.

  • Created custom, personalized, tracking logs for each child and sheets were put into binders at the center. Extra logs in the binder if the center needed them.
  • Provided on-site checkout. Had a mini library at each center on a book cart.
  • Offered a weekly program.
  • It was about meeting the kids where they are at


Many returned from year one to participate again. Also utilized the Summer VISTA program It added a lot of diversity to the program.

Partner research (see handout 2): 

  • Are the right people at the right table?
  • Where is your target audience congregating?
  • Who is working with the kids you want to work with? For example, the food backpack program. Where do these kids go in summer?
  • Community data
    • Poverty mapping
    • Food desert mapping
    • School level – free & reduced lunch
    • Registered Section 8 HUD housing. You can search your community within the spreadsheet. Many partners have already done this work for funding so ask first!
  • Take a hard look at what your library is already doing well. Can you take what you do well and modify it for outreach? As they were modifying, they had to keep in mind that everything needed to fit in Rubbermaid containers!

Your Resources:

  • Who is your coordinator/champion that will run with it?
    • Volunteers
    • Stuff-space, staff, supplies, books

Lessons Learned: 

  • Flexibility and adaptability are key for all parties
  • Determine how you feel about lost materials. Communicate early and often to internal and external parties. Decided they didn’t really care if the books didn’t come back. Circulated 1000 books and three books didn’t come back. Kids also took home books to keep as part of the summer library program.
  • Meet with all levels of partners-from planning to training and everything in-between. Worked directly with summer staff at the YMCA at a granular day-to-day basis. Have conversations early on.
  • Share the load of work.
  • Streamline when possible – mail merge reading logs with kid’s names, duo-enrollment form (checkbox on YMCA summer camp form asking parents to enroll the child in summer library program). Also gave the data digitally for mail merge of personalized reading logs.
  • Talk about what you are going to do, do it, and talk about what you did.
  • Survey – had four questions and asked the kids one by one.

Advice for Librarians & Centers:

  • Get involved. Great investment in the library, the community, and the kids.
  • Steve Pemberton, PLA BIG IDEAS speaker, spoke about sneaking into the library. What if we sneak books to the kids? Make the library accessible to them. Bring the library to the kids.


  • Did you clear out your library stash? Secured a grant to buy 350-400 books for this program. Developed a core collection. Didn’t have to make a decision between who got the books – kids at the library or the centers.
  • Did you renew the books? Renewals depended on popularity. If they had a copy in the regular collection, they would bring that copy to the center so the child could finish reading the book.
  • Did you bring tech to the centers? Brought Launchpads (20#) and Google Nexus (10#)
  • How many centers did you partner with? The first year, they partnered with two different YMCAs. One camp was located at the YMCA and another was offered at the elementary school, but run by the YMCA.
  • What about prizes? Stepped away from the traditional prize model. Received a prize when they registered and at 600 minutes (a journal and a coupon for the Friends of the Library sale). When the kids completed the program, teens and younger got to pick a new book. Or teens could pick a coupon for the Friends of the Library sale.
  • Do the kids at the centers have to have a library card? Not necessarily. They would issue an express card which doesn’t require a parent signature and allows for e-resources and limited checkouts.

See Handout 1 for the PowerPoint used during this presentation.

Kevin Delecki and Jessica Link seemed very open to questions. Email addresses are linked above.

Posted in Program, Teens

How To: Host a Teen LGBTQ Club

At PLA, in the exhibit hall, they had these How To Festival programs that run for 20-minutes on a variety of topics. Here’s the program description from the PLA Conference web site:

Join us at the PLA Stage in the PLA Pavilion in the Exhibits Hall for the How-To Festival—an incredible line-up of 20-minute hands-on sessions provided by and for conference attendees! A How-To Festival is a cooperative learning experience, teaching practical, hands-on skills that can be learned in short sessions. It’s a fun way for attendees to learn something new and to experience a taste of the wildly successful How-to Festival that attracts 4,000 individuals to the Louisville (KY) Free Public Library every May.

I had a few How To programs I wanted to attend marked down but only made it to a couple due to scheduling conflicts. One that I sat in on and really enjoyed was called How To: Host a Teen LGBTQ Club presented by Jenifer Phillips from Haverford Township Free Library. Here is the program description from the PLA Conference web site.

HOW TO Host a Teen LBGTQ Club
In the past decade, young people have started coming out as LGBTQ at much younger ages than in previous generations. Public libraries and youth services librarians are in a unique position to provide services and safe spaces for this underserved population. With a focus on middle school-aged patrons, “Out @ the Library” is an LGBTQ club that I have hosted during the past year. During this presentation, I will demonstration promotional tools, ground rules for creating the club’s safe space, and age-appropriate activities that have been successful.

  1. Why this club? The age people are coming out is much younger than previous generations. Reflects a change in attitudes in our society.
    • 30% of kids have experienced bullying because of LGBTQ identification
    • Kids would come to Jenifer about struggling with their identity
    • Late elementary/middle schools don’t want to touch sexuality stuff
    • This is an underserved/not served community
    • Reached out to parents, kids, staff, and asked what they would like to see at the library. Lots of art expression came up and book clubs.
  2. Program proposal – spoke to the library director and then the board. Discussed target audience, intended audience, and outcomes.
  3. Promote the club – flyers titled OUT @ the Library. Independent bookstore was amazing to work with–set up a special tour for the club.
  4. Programs & Activities – Kids are often afraid to check out LGBTQ books. Working on getting ebooks on devices so kids can read safely.
    • Author luncheon, LGBTQ Writers
    • Pride Day was very successful
    • Pride Wall – on a wall/bulletin board, printed big pictures of LGBTQ celebrities. Representation is important. Teens can write messages on post-it notes and add it to the pride wall.
  5. Rules for a safe space – asked the kids to help come up with guidelines
    • Club activities include a discussion circle that includes serious and fun questions, like who is the gayest guy cartoon character? Karaoke is still popular as is board games and video games.
  6. Collaborative Art
  7. Feedback – has received positive feedback from parents

Jenifer Phillips contact information