Wednesday, July 01, 2009
We should have known. We prepared hard enough. We got some wonderful sponsors, new and old. We lined up some really great events. We got new tee shirts. But we REALLY weren’t expecting a total explosion for this year’s summer reading events. The parking lots became an issue. Space became an issue. Noise became an issue. And we are thrilled!
We have a blowout – Circulation counts for May totaled 17,875 – a very comfortable healthy figure. June of 2008, which astounded us then, totaled 28,216. This month, our circulation total for our three libraries is 32,087, almost double what we did in May. And our walk-in counts don’t include the audiences we had for programs that we had to move out of the libraries due to the crowds.
For the Chambers County Library System, summer reading is comparable to the Youth Project Show, the GatorFest, the Rice Festival, the Fall Fest. Our 6 week program utilizes every bit of personnel we can muster in house, whether part-time, full-time, or summer help, and we draw on the talents at Building Maintenance, Parks, and other county departments as needed. This year we scrambled to get open dates at the community buildings to hold the rest of our programs once we saw what was happening. We expected double, but not triple and quadruple audiences.
The economy factors in, of course. This year, folks chose to travel less and be with their families more. They are looking to the county libraries for that opportunity to go someplace as a family, where the needs of all ages can be met. We’ve had movies, live programs, crafts, and of course, all of the books, music, videos, magazines, and general entertainment that libraries offer. Our teen and adult summer reading programs have seen just as much of an increase as the elementary age programs. We’ve expanded the teen programming to all three libraries, and the teens are slowly (well, you know teens) responding to our overtures.
We have the month of July to continue summer reading; the official events end July 17, and our end-of-summer-reading parties for the teens and kids are the following week. Things tend to get a little calmer after the first few weeks, and August comes as blissful relief, at least until school cranks up. We still have to get through the giant waterslides at the 3 sites, but for now, we are determined to press on; we’re tired, blistered (!) and occasionally we can’t hear for the noise, but we are extremely happy and proud that we’ve made this summer one to remember for our patrons.