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Take Advantage of Summer Reading and Create Lifelong Library Users

Post by Nancy Dowd
Posted April 24, 2013 in

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Summer reading season is almost upon us. This is a great opportunity to start building your email lists of parents to take you through the next school year. 

Why email lists? 

The latest Pew report identified a clear pattern that confirms what most of us in the library field already knew: a large percentage of people start using the library when they bring their children or granchildren and they stop using the library when those children are old enough to be on their own. 

To put it simply, that's crazy. 

We are missing two huge opportunities. Libraries need to be developing relationships with parents to help them effectively support their children's educational success from birth through college. We also need to be converting parents into library users for their own needs. 

How do we create post-storytime relationships?

Here at LibraryAware, we suggest that you consider creating opt-in mailing lists according to grade level so you can communicate with parents as their children move from grade to grade. 

LibraryAware users can do that easily enough by just creating a specific list in the subscriptions section. You can promote it online with our widget creator or with a simple link on your website. This is even more important in states that are adopting Common Core Standards. By creating individual lists you'll be able to share specific reading lists and activities. Imagine how grateful parents will be to receive emails that help them select books for their kids that fit into the new curriculum.

Keep in mind that you also want to start encouraging those adults to utilize the library for their reading selections as well. You can accomplish that by cross-promoting books (print, ebooks, and audio), movies, and outstanding programs. If you have services for book clubs or meaningful volunteer opportunities, be sure to work those in as well. Don't overwhelm them, feed them slowly. 

How often should you send emails? One newsletter and two e-blasts a month would be a great start towards upping your communication with parents. 

The best time to start building your communication network with parents is during summer reading. Here are 5 things you may want to try: 

  1. Ask parents for the best way to keep in touch with them. Keep it simple; ask them personally or use feedback forms. 
  2. Start building email lists of parents and encourage them to join you on social media platforms. 
  3. Strengthen advocacy efforts -- remind parents to thank elected officials for supporting the library at every gathering you host. 
  4. Survey kids about their toughest subjects so you can develop programming, book displays, and reading recommendations during the school year. 
  5. Surveying parents about the toughest aspect of helping kids succeed will help you develop fiction and nonfiction reading selections. 

Nancy Dowd is the Product Lead for LibraryAware. Her passion is helping libraries connect to their communities.