Jeff Hall: Library’s summer reading collaboration works

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 30, 2015

By Jeff Hall

Rowan Public Library Director

Earlier this month Rowan Public Library closed the book on a summer of heroes, super heroes and heroic reading. For over 40 years, RPL has reached out to children to motivate them to read and explore their world during their summer break. Rockets, snakes, fairytales, train rides, music, storytelling and zombie tag are just a few examples of what participants have enjoyed over the years.

For the past 20 years, the Friends of Rowan Public Library have provided financial support for this adventure. This past year they gave Rowan Public Library approximately $11,000.00 to support this successful program, funding presenters for 49 school age programs and prizes for teens and adults. Their generosity and the support of area businesses like Cheerwine, CiCi’s Pizza, Bounce City, Ultimate Sports Apparel, Catawba College and First Bank have created great memories for participating children and teens.

Rowan Public Library’s summer reading programming serves children as young as 1 and as youthful as 100. The summer reading program is open to children and adults whether or not they can attend the over 130 offered library presentations.

A total of 2,153 children, from age 1 to rising 5th graders, registered along with 286 teens and 156 adults. Those children recorded a total of 15,305.5 hours while the teens recorded 13,159 hours and the adults recorded 6,527 hours of reading. That’s a tremendous amount of reading going on in our community.

Not only did programs take place at each library location but arrangements were made with the town of Cleveland to present a weekly book check out and program for the western section of Rowan County. This year the attendance there skyrocketed.

Public library staff also work with daycares and summer camps across the county to ensure that those children also have a chance to participate.

At RPL Headquarters in Salisbury and Frank T. Tadlock South Regional in China Grove, special times are set aside for daycares and summer camps. Over 800 kids in these programs registered, read, attended programs and won prizes, and throughout the summer over 600 books were given away to area children and teens for free.

A shout out to the staff who make all this happen: Children’s Services led by Melissa Oleen; Young Adult Services, led by Jennifer Nicholson; Adult programming, led by Gretchen Witt; and Erika Kosin for managing the online components.

How can we continue to build on this success and reach even more children and teens? RPL staff already delivers over 24,000 bookmarks and posters in May to local area schools to let students and teachers know about the Summer Program at RPL. Media specialists and teachers help promote the program to their students.

This year also marks the first year of our Readers’ Cup, which honors the elementary, middle school and high school with the most hours recorded by their students at the Rowan Public Library; they get to display the Readers’ Cup in their media center from September through May. The Reader’s Cup was made possible by First Bank. This award will be announced soon.

Collaboration that works: The Rowan Public Library Friends, RPL and area business are finding ways to motivate children, teens and adults to read and succeed.

Jeff Hall is director of the Rowan Public Library.