For the past four years, my library has provided our community with a summer reading carnival to kickstart our summer reading program. For the first two years, we had a few bounce houses and cotton candy and 400 patrons attended. To plan our past carnival, I brainstormed ideas on how to continue by providing a carnival with more than bounces houses and cotton candy. The one word that was in my head was partnerships. I made a list of current library partners and sent them an email invitation. Every partner agreed to participate. When word got out about our carnival, I received emails from new agencies and organizations asking if they could participate. A total of 42 partners participated and our attendance was over 1,600 (our population is at or around 12,500)!
A kick-off carnival is a wonderful opportunity for any library to begin its summer reading program. I personally love these types of programs because library partners provide the activities at no cost to us or the community. We do apply for a local grant to help with any additional costs. It is always important to remember that a program does not have to cost money to be successful nor does it have to be large scale.
The following is my planning process to pull off a successful kick-off program.
- Spend time reviewing the past carnival and identify both the successes and the areas needing improvement. For example, last we year we did not have a map for patrons to locate activities and to ensure partners had enough space;
- Send a thank you letter to the partners and invite them to the next carnival.
- Do you see a lack of activities for a specific age group?
- Review the current list of partners and begin to research new partners. Our kick-off carnival has a combination of partners from social service agencies, schools, early learning organizations, local community colleges, service organizations, and university departments.
- Begin reaching out to new partners and invite them to the carnival.
- Continue adding new partners if needed. Remember to think about both spaces inside the library and outside the library so you can accommodate the amount of partners attending. Do you have a street outside of your library you could block-off? Our library is three stories and has a large street so we can accommodate a lot of partners;
- Send out the first email about the date for the kick-off event, information about last year and the date for them to confirm their participation.
- If you are using a street, reach out to your city to request a street closure for your kick-off program.
- Follow up with partners if they have questions;
- If you have room, continue inviting partners to the kick-off program;
- Begin reviewing your space and mapping out confirmed partners;
- Begin creating posters, drafting out social media posts, and locating potential marketing avenues. The poster I create for this event does not list every activity, only highlights. See example below.
APRIL AND MAY:
- Finalize posters and begin advertising on social media;
- Continue reviewing the space and updating the map as needed.
- Recruit volunteers to help. The Friends group, college students, high school students, retirees, and the local 4‑H club are great choices;
- Throughout these months, I create Facebook Live videos to announce all of the fun activities at the kick-off and invite partners to join me.
JUNE 3, 2019: SUMMER READING KICK-OFF CARNIVAL!
Hope this helps you plan your own summer reading kick-off for next year. Please reach out to me if you have any questions.
Have a great summer!
MY SUMMER READING PLANS … WHAT ARE YOURS?