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Summer Reading Program Yard Sign Incentive

Calcasieu Library
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Innovation Leader: Michael Sawyer, Director, msawyer@calcasieu.lib.la.us

Problem Statement

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit south Louisiana in 2005, and Gustav and Ike in 2008. Since the first storm, circulation declined for 4 years by 19%. During the same period, circulation of children’s materials declined by 23%.

Innovation

To boost interest in the summer reading program, we facilitated a unique incentive for children: a yard sign stating “A Library Champion Lives Here!” Parents had the option of sending a digital image of the child with the sign for posting on the library website. This innovative marketing campaign brought dramatic, measurable results. The best summary which highlights the cutting edge program, is the slide show from the website, which can be viewed at http://calcasieulibrary.org and scroll down to the bottom of the webpage.

Progress

The measurable impact is evidenced in the statistics. The number of children who completed the 2009 summer reading program increased by 219 from 2008. Program attendance during the summer increased by 3,140 from 2008. Increase in overall usage is indicated by circulation stats showing an increase of 21% in June and 15% in July. 1800 children earned yard signs by reading 10 books during the summer of 2009! Surprisingly, teens and adults expressed eagerness to participate in their summer reading programs, so they could obtain their own yards signs. The yard sign project proved to be a dynamic solution to the problem of declining circulation. The signs definitely created greater community awareness of the summer reading program and of the services of the public library. They generated excitement in the community about reading. They gave the parents of the community a way to get their children to read during the summer. As of March 2010 we still see signs in lawns around the Parish.

Perhaps the most interesting story to be told was the one from a young mother who could not get her son to read. When his neighborhood friends started putting up their yard signs, he wanted to participate in the summer program! When he read 10 books and received his yard sign, she commented this program provided “positive peer pressure” that inspired her son to read.

Circulation was at 1,047,940 in 2004 and in 2009 our circulation once again topped 1 million: 1,008,544.