As I was making the daily schedules this week for our children’s department, I wrote the phrase “Gird Your Loins: Summer Reading Begins” across the top. Highlighted in yellow.
In our library, Summer Reading sign-up is no joke. It is a level-five, all-out, nonstop event that is both physically and mentally demanding. Case in point: yesterday we signed up well over 200 kids within the first six hours! And we don’t expect that rate to slow down until at least the end of the week.
This onslaught- that has us speaking ourselves raspy after hours of talking about books, prizes, and passports, this torrent of activity that has us sneaking a quick lunch on the fly before jumping back into the fray alongside our comrades, this circuslike atmosphere that has us gasping for breath at the end of our day- this is the fruit of our labors from the past few weeks. Believe it or not, this is exactly how we like it!
Since May, the Children’s Library team has been visiting every class, every child in town in order to get them riled up and excited beyond belief about Summer Reading. Imagine that. Mere days after school lets out, instead of riding bikes, or heading out to the beach, or playing a round of Wii, or signing into their Poptropica accounts, hundreds of children and families flock to the public library to sign up for a program that celebrates reading. I’ve witnessed children literally running (running!) into the library, crowding around the info desk, tiny hands wringing in anticipation.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll sign up hundreds of kids, give out hundreds of free books, award dozens of cool prizes, and recommended tons of truly awesome summer reads. And while statistics, sign-up numbers, and door counts can give us definitive proof, our sure sign of success is simply leaving each day totally exhausted and bleary-eyed. When we librarians are all tuckered out and need a nap, it’s been a job well done!