SLP De-Briefing

Our Youth Services team always takes an hour or so to gather and chat immediately after the dust of SLP has settled. It's helpful to consider the just completed chaos and chew on positives, negatives, ideas for the future and solutions to niggling problems that popped up - all while it is fresh in our minds.

There are pats on the back - we made it through an incredibly busy eight weeks!  We came through and still like our patrons and each other!  Now it's time for some Monday morning quarterbacking.

We usually have a few raw numbers to look at - number of kids registered, participating and earning a book; how many programs and how was attendance; total number of visits; circulation stats; like that. We look at the previous year and see if our sense of the summer matches those stats.

This year, our participation was down at our in-house program and up in our outreach program. The room itself was insanely busy but circulation figures were down overall.  We sensed an ennui with the design of our SLP materials for elementary and preschool ages (both three years old now) and plan to change them up for next summer. We're looking at shaking up the teen incentives as well.

We see the need to interact more immediately with supervisors of summer groups to talk about library use and the responsibilities of the caregivers that accompany kids for weekly visits.

We hope to incorporate an element of "giving" with the kids...whether asking them to donate food for the food pantry (many food pantries see donations plummet in the summer and often have to rely on funds to buy food to stock the shelves) or giving them the choice, in lieu of a small prize, of putting a marker in a donation jar that we will use for a local charity. Each marker might be worth $.05 or $.10 and the Friends money we would normally use for a doo-dad would instead support an animal shelter or our community garden or another worthy cause.

While we didn't all see the summer through the same eyes (we liked the incentives; we hated the incentives; more programs; less programs), our discussion was helpful and gave the team food for thought.

Now the notes are done, and plans in place. We close the book on summer for as many months as we can before we get back to designing materials in February.

It feels good to let the summer go. It feels good to know we have a huge jumpstart for next year's planning. Good-bye SLP. We'll think about you again...in 2014.


  1. We offer an Adopt an Animal prize option during SLP, which participants can choose in place of a gift certificate/coupon. Through the local zoo, we "adopt" an animal each summer, and the zoo sends us 50 trading cards with the animal's picture and facts on them. When participants choose the Adopt and Animal prize, they get to sign a greeting card to the animal, and they get a trading card for keeps. We send a check to the zoo at the end of the summer (usually $1 per child who selected the prize). We also send the signed greeting card. We've gotten a lot of great feedback about this prize option!

  2. My teenage daughter has been feeling pretty "meh" about the SLP for the past several years (keeping records seems to suck the joy out of summer reading for both of my kids), but was motivated to sign up this year specifically because she could be part of a "charity challenge." I think it's great to think about lots of different kinds of motivations for participating--and about the fact that a lot of kids really WANT to be doing something useful and helpful, and really like a chance to do that.