How do you reach the children and families in your community who do not have transportation to your library? In fall 2012, while reviewing our Summer Reading participation numbers, we found that despite an overall increase in participation we were still not reaching some of the children in our town who would 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 minimum public transportation options, Mattoon families who live on the outskirts of town are more than a mile away from the library. We determined that the only way to get these children involved in our Summer Reading program was to take the program to them. From this idea, our Book Buggy developed and became a way to reach hundreds more children than our traditional in-library offerings during the summer.
We started our program in the summer of 2013. We partnered 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. This allowed us to purchase a collection of popular books just for the Book Buggy, pay for it to be staffed, supplied 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 it works:
The library makes most Food-On-The-Move stops. We also service a day camp. Any stop not made by the library is because it is outside our service area, or within walking distance of the library.
- The Book Buggy runs on Thursday’s during the summer. It starts the first Thursday after kids get out of school, and goes until school is back in session.
- Each year, every kid will be issued a very special digital card that is NOT VALID in the library, or anywhere in Illinois Heartland Library System.
- Children who already have an MPL library card can choose to participate in the book buggy, but they must bring that card with them to receive service.
- They get to choose one age-appropriate book from the Book Buggy for checking out.
- The next week that book must be returned before they can check out another.
- If for any reason, a kid still has a library 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 MPL for use the following year.
- If the same kids do not return their books two summers in a row, they will be denied future Book Buggy service 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 can 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 (it can be any book, not just the one they get from the Book Buggy).
- Bring the completed bookmark back to the Book Buggy. The library staff will keep track of your time, and bring your prizes when you are eligible. Any further instructions will be on the bookmarks.
- Kids and Teens getting serviced by the Book Buggy can go to the library at any time, but they will only be able to register for the reading program or collect their prizes on the Book Buggy. Any other registrations may be redacted.
- If we miss giving any Book Buggy user their prize, the prize will be given to their school librarian in hopes of getting it to its winner.
The Book Buggy schedule is made in April/May. The schedule is based on the Salvation Army Food-on-the-Move schedule. If your camp or summer care center of 15+ school-aged kids and teens would like to be considered for Book Buggy service, please contact the Library Director.