The end marks the beginning.

The end of the Summer Reading Program is this week. This was my first time running a program of any sort, ever. I think it went well. Two days left before the official end, and I’m still having people sign up to be a part of the program at the library. Some general stats for the program:

4 – number of teen volunteers who helped me with the running of the program by loyally sitting at a table for hours waiting for the families to arrive to get their prizes and sign up for the program. I only had four teens, but they worked an average of 22 hours every week for me! It was a huge help for me and my co-workers to have them helping out and they are wonderful teens. I’m having a party for them in a couple of days to get their feedback and celebrate their work.

8 – the number of weeks the library’s program ran.

18 – the number of specialized programs for the community at the library during the program.

1 – the number of staff who transferred away from the branch during the program.

39 – the average attendance for the public programming for all ages.

1 – the number of e-mail complaints about paid performers from concerned parents who thought a puppet was “demonic”.

8 – the percentage of increase in participation from my community as compared to last year!

So far, so good. The library system as a whole wanted 20,000 total sign-ups throughout the city, but I don’t know how close they got to that goal. I think we’ll have a lot of wrap-up activities around the branch. I have a lot of cleaning up of the decorations I put up back in May. The stench of Goo-Gone is in my future, I believe.

Although the SRP is almost done, the school registration season has begun, so my outreach is picking back up. It’s funny to go back to the schools I went to in the Spring to talk about SRP and watched all those kids so excited for summer. Now they’re back and anxious for the new school year to start. Today was the last day of summer school at the elementary school I went to this morning and, at one point, a gaggle of girls rushed into the cafeteria where the registration event was going on and rushed at a teacher to hug her and some were so sad to be leaving. After they left, the teacher explained that the girls didn’t get really realize they would be leaving since they knew they’d be in summer school, so now it’s just hit them that this is their last day at their elementary school. They’re moving up the road to the middle school. They have about 2 weeks to let it sink in before starting sixth grade. I’ll probably see them at the registration for the middle school! The community I serve is on the very low-income side of the scale. The city-at-large is not a rich place, but the schools in my community are described by the teachers and staff as the “ugly stepchildren” of the public school system in the city (and the school system is pretty awful as a whole). So the organizations that are invited to attend these registration events at the schools are usually socially-minded organizations that can offer some sort of free service or help to the families and children. I always learn something and take flyers and brochures back to the library to post and share with the community. I do the outreach for the branch library, not only because I like doing it, but because nobody else really wants to do it. I wish sometimes that we could close the branch for a bit and I could bring all my co-workers out to these events. Being with the families and trying to get them to come and use the library, as well as meeting other people in our community who are doing awesome things and trying to help us all live happier and easier lives together here, would be an outstanding opportunity for everyone at the branch. But, it doesn’t work like that, so I plod on and do my best to bring the optimistic and endearing spirits of the people back with me into the branch to share with them. If nothing else, it makes me feel better to meet these people and be out in the community, After I got back to the library in the afternoon, a family who was at the registration in the morning came in and signed up for a library card and the SRP! So, every little bit helps.

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