This is a Q&A type discussion with former Dollar General summer grant winner Emily Otis regarding her 2015 summer program for Anaheim Public Library in California. Feel free to discuss the grant and her project in the forum space.
1. Please tell us a little bit about your library and your 2015 summer reading program.
2015 was the first time in many years that the Teen SRP was run by a dedicated Teen Librarian. After budget cuts and layoffs about 5 years before, one librarian shared responsibility for adult and teen collections and services. I was hired as Teen Librarian in the fall of 2014, and saw right away that YA collection development and teen programs had languished (as would be expected). Our SRP numbers from the year before had been relatively low, and there had been no programming. The theme for 2015 was Read To the Rhythm, so I planned musically inspired programs, had teen volunteers create a musical mural to hang in the teen space, and went out to the high school to promote the program and drum up participation.
2. What did you use your grant money for?
I used the grant funds to purchase more copies of popular teen titles for all 7 library branches, and got additional funding for programs from the Anaheim Public Library Friends.
3. Did the grant money make an impact?
Yes! We had more books that teens liked to read. Individual participation in the Teen SRP, as well as the number of books read, increased by nearly 60%!
4. Do you have any positive experiences from the grant that you want to share?
The grant was very easy to administer, which I appreciated.
5. Were there any challenges with summer reading or the grant?
The only challenge was increasing participation, which the grant helped us to do!
6. Any lessons learned?
I did choose the same "popular" titles for all 7 branches. While most worked well and circed everywhere, there were a couple titles that were less popular at some branches. I learned to look at the micro-demographics of each branch and to think about what will be popular within a particular community when developing collections.
7. Do you have any advice for 2018 grant seekers?
If you don't apply, you'll never get it, so give it a try!
8. Can you email a picture from your program or of you or your library that we can include?
At the end of SRP, we had a Make-Your-Own Ice Cream Sundae party. Kids actually made their own ice cream, and then topped it with all the sundae fixin's. This was definitely the most popular program of the summer!