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Satellite Summer Reading Program
Aurora Public Library, CO
Innovation SummaryIn collaboration with the Aurora Public Schools, the Cherry Creek School District, and the Children's Hospital Colorado, the Aurora Public Library created an outreach program bringing the Summer Reading Program to underserved communities in our city.
In 2009 a General Improvement District proposal on the November ballot was rejected by Aurora voters, resulting in the closure of 4 of our 7 libraries. Three of these branches were in low-income neighborhoods; and two of those three branches served communities with 95% of the students on free or reduced lunches. Our staff was concerned that because of the facility closures and the inability of the families to provide transportation to a library further away from their home, that the students wouldn't be able to be able to participate in the Summer Reading Program. Not only is the Summer Reading Program a fun summer activity, but it provides an important incentive to maintain literacy skills throughout the vacation months - a critical component of academic success as the school year resumes in the fall.
Staff targeted the communities most affected by library branch closures, and contacted the schools individually to find out if they either offered "Fifth Block" (a 5-week summer school course), or were planning on opening up their school libraries to the community throughout the summer. We then invited those schools to participate in the Satellite Summer Reading Program, which would consist of: - Registering all students for the Summer Reading Program - Weekly visits by a librarian to provide storytimes or crafts - An opportunity for all students to recieve the same prizes awarded to the children who were able to visit the library in person throughout the summer.
Working in conjunction with Aurora Public Schools, the Cherry Creek School District and Children’s Hospital Colorado, over three hundred children participated in this program by summer’s end 2012. Even more exciting, we had a 100% completion rate – absolutely phenomenal! Participating schools were: Laredo Elementary, Virginia Court Elementary, Arkansas Elementary, Cimarron Elementary, and Children's Hospital Medical Day Treatment Program. By careful tracking of SRP registration data, we found that only 3-5 of the three hundred children had duplicate registrations, indicating that the communities targeted by our librarians were indeed in need of direct delivery of the Summer Reading Program to their neighborhood. The Library extends major thanks to the Friends of APL for providing the financial support that made this program happen! Staff felt themselves extremely lucky enough to be present and see the excitement and happiness on each of these kids’ faces as they received their very own book, many for the first time ever – and truly, we’ve never loved our jobs more! Yes, we are repeating this opportunity during the summer of 2013.