In the fall of 2012, while reviewing our Summer Reading Program participation numbers, we found that, despite an overall increase in participation, the Library was still not reaching some of the children in our town who could benefit most from our summer programs. Specific neighborhoods and populations had little to no participation, and we knew that this was in large part due to a lack of transportation for many families in our community. With few public transportation options for Mattoon families who live on the outskirts of town, we decided that the only way to get these children involved in our Summer Reading Program was to take the program to them. From this idea, Book Buggy was born! It has allowed us to reach hundreds of more children than our traditional in-library offerings.
We started our program in the summer of 2013 by partnering with the Salvation Army’s Food-on-the-Move program to take books to children who were receiving meals in these neighborhoods all summer. This project was started with a founding grant from the Lumpkin Foundation, which allowed us to purchase a collection of popular books just for the Book Buggy, pay for it to be staffed, supply the mobile technology needed to check materials out, and supply extra prizes for summer reading. Each summer since then has been funded out of the Library’s programming budget and by generous donors.
How does the Book Buggy work?
The Library makes most of the same stops that Food-On-The-Move does and also services a day camp. Stops not made by the Library are due to locations being outside our service area or within walking distance of the Library.
The Book Buggy runs on Thursdays during the summer. It starts the first Thursday after children get out of school, and goes until school is back in session.
The Book Buggy schedule is made in April or May and is based on the Salvation Army Food-on-the-Move schedule. If your camp or summer care center of 15 or more school-aged children and teens would like to be considered for the Book Buggy service, please contact the Library Director.
Each year, every participating child will be issued a very special digital card that is not valid in the library or anywhere in the Illinois Heartland Library System. Children who already have a Mattoon Public Library card can choose to participate in the Book Buggy, but they must bring that card with them to receive service.
Children get to choose one age-appropriate book from the Book Buggy to check out each week. The book must be returned the following week before another may be checked out. If for any reason, a child still has a book at the end of the summer, they should return it to their school library or teacher, who will help ensure that it gets back to the Mattoon Public Library for use the following year. If the same children do not return their books two summers in a row, they will be denied future Book Buggy service’s until those books are returned or other arrangements have been made with the Library Director.
We encourage all those who are able to attend in-house Library programs and events. Those that do so and would like to check out materials will need to convert their Book Buggy card to a real library card.
The Summer Reading Program
We encourage everyone to join the Summer Reading Program. What could be better than getting a prize just for reading?
Each week, the books will have a special bookmark inside. Kids keep track of how much they read and the title of the book. This can be any book, not just the one they get from the Book Buggy. Once finished, kids can then bring the completed bookmark back to the Book Buggy. The Library staff will keep track of their time and bring them prizes when they are eligible. Any further instructions will be on the bookmarks.
Children and teens using the Book Buggy can go to the Library at any time, but they will only be able to register for the Summer Reading Program or collect their prizes from the Book Buggy. Any other registrations may be redacted.
If we fail to give any Book Buggy user their prize, the prize will be given to their school librarian to pass along to the winner.