Last week our library began the I <3 Books reading program. While the main goal of the program is promoting literacy, we were also hoping to encourage patrons to use our resources and borrow library material. Our circulation has been somewhat low since the holiday season and starting a reading program seemed like an obvious choice to boost circulation. Of course, with a limited budget, we had to find resourceful and creative ways to implement this program. With the help of our teens and financial support from our Friends group, we not only started our reading program but we were also able to have a successful kickoff event where many patrons registered to participate in the reading contest.
Here are 5 tips that worked for us in implementing a low cost reading program:
1) Use your leftovers. We used our of leftover material such as books, pencils and bags from previous programs to offer as part of our incentives.
2) Find an inexpensive incentive that is appropriate for most ages. Silly Bandz did the trick for us! Both children and teens in our community can't get enough silly bandz and the price was just right. Of course we did not forget about the little ones and adults, but the cost for these incentives was minimal, given that we had several leftover items from our summer reading program that were appropriate for both of these age groups.
3) Solicit financial support or donations for grand prizes. This was our big cost item. We were fortunate to obtain our financial support from our Friends of the Library group. If you don't have a Friends group though, try local businesses, community partners or generous patrons who are often willing to help.
4) Go green and keep the printing of reading logs and promotional material to a minimum. Our reading logs were printed as half sheets in black and white. We told patrons if they loose their reading log to write it on any piece of scratch paper. Our printed fliers were limited and our promotional information was distributed electronically to the schools and local partners. Teen Council created a couple of large visible posters with the program information and placed them in the areas of the library that receive the most traffic.
5) Recruit volunteers and FREE local talent to host a kickoff event. Our teens did it all! Teen council volunteered to run the event and register patrons for the program. Our teen music group joined forces with local teen dancing crews to provide the entertainment and promote the event.
Check out more pictures of the I Heart Books Kickoff Event.