Adult Reading Programs Are a Hit at the Ruth Enlow Library

Summer reading isn't just for children – at least not at the Ruth Enlow Library in Garret County.  Last summer the library tried a pilot Adult Summer Reading program that saw 166 people sign up and 66 of them turn in reading logs at the conclusion of the program. With plans for this year's summer reading programs underway across the state, a synopsis of what happened in Garrett County is included in this month's MLA newsletter, The Crab.


Adult Reading Programs Are a Hit at the Ruth Enlow Library

Staff has made a pleasant discovery at local libraries in Garrett County — that summer, winter, and other special reading programs for adults are popular with patrons. Library staff knew that there were plenty of readers, but had not tried to run a formal reading program where customers could sign up and keep a reading log. So, in the summer of 2017, the library tried a pilot Adult Summer Reading program at the main library in Oakland. As an incentive to attract interest, the library purchased tote bags sporting the library's logo and gave one to each person who signed up, along with a reading log for recording books read from July through the end of August. Each participant was required to read at least two books, enter them into the log, and include a brief review of at least two books in order to be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate for a local bookstore. A flurry of 166 people signed up, with 66 turning in reading logs at the conclusion of the program.

When the adults turned in the logs, they were asked to complete a Summer Reading Club survey so that there would be feedback about their experiences. Comments about what they liked include:  "Writing a critique of the books I read," "Sharing what good books I've read," "Considering what I would tell others about a particular book," "Getting to choose whatever I wanted to read," and…  "Keeping track of the number of books I read – it adds up!”

Several people noted the value of writing the reviews. “I liked how knowing I had to write a review of two books made me pay more attention to details in each book and think about things I could write,” said one participant.

Circulation staff at Oakland saw the enthusiasm of library patrons for the adult reading club. “Many were extremely excited to be able to participate in their own reading club after bringing their children to our programs for years,” noted Suzanne Bonser, circulation supervisor. “And several commented on how much they enjoyed the challenge of writing reviews of the books to share with others.”

The library's success with the adult Summer Reading Program prompted a “Winter Reads” initiative system-wide. The program concluded in early April, with raffle drawings and informal book reviews at every branch. This time, incentives were not given at the beginning of the program on January 2, but rather, were handed out to participants who turned in a completed reading log that reflected at least five books read and two brief reviews. Participants with completed reading logs were given a ceramic bistro mug imprinted with the library's logo and they were also entered into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate from a local business. As of this writing, there was a total of 162 patrons enrolled in the program system-wide.

By including an informal book review at each branch in April, the library hoped to encourage patrons to attend and share something about one of the books they read during the program. Along with the Winter Reads, the library also started a system-wide 2018 Reading Challenge on January 2, which runs until December 31 of this year. Participants are to read a book in each of 25 categories during the year to be entered into a drawing for a prize at the conclusion of the program. This challenge is proving to be more popular than expected, with a total of 87 participants so far. Reading Challenge categories include a book recommended by a librarian, a book about Paris, a banned book, a Pulitzer Prize winner, a book with an ugly cover, and more.“Our great staff have really outdone themselves putting together these programs,” said Director Thomas Vose, “We're gratified to see such a great response from the public. Garrett County really is a community of readers!”

Support for these programs is provided by the Western Maryland Regional Library, the regional resource center for the public libraries of Allegany, Garrett, and Washington Counties.


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