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Summer Dare Everywhere

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Summer Dare Everywhere

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Iowa

Education - Birth Thru Teens | 2017 | Top Innovator

Innovation Summary

The Cedar Rapids Public Library’s "Summer Dare Everywhere" delivers the library’s summer reading program to underserved youth with barriers to accessing library resources and programs. Through partnerships with childcare providers, the library extends its literacy efforts beyond its physical boundaries and engages volunteers in supporting reading initiatives in the community.

Problem Statement

In 2016, the Cedar Rapids Public Library was involved in discussions with childcare providers to develop solutions to combat the summer learning slide. Providers identified shortages in new, engaging reading materials and staff time as the biggest challenges to supporting youth in reading programs at their care sites. In response to these needs, the library launched a summer reading program to bring library resources and volunteers to support the literacy efforts at these childcare sites.


Each week during the summer, volunteers host a 1.5 hour program at several childcare sites. They bring a wealth of library resources – books, crafts, learning tablets. A deposit collection curated by library staff circulates through the sites and volunteers fulfill specific book requests for the children. The program capitalizes on the strengths of each player – partnerships with childcare providers, library staff collection and programming expertise and the volunteers’ engagement and gift of time.


In 2016, the program started with two sites and 130 children. In 2017, it grew by 100 percent to 260 children at five sites. Based on a 2016 survey, 68 percent of participants had not previously participated in the summer reading program. The innovative impact of the program is its ability to economically expand the library’s capacity to reach children with barriers to library access and provide them with a unique library experience at their childcare site.