4 Reasons Your Library Should Adopt a Community-Wide Reading Goal

Apr 8, 2019 | Articles

You likely recognize this tried-and-true way to administer a summer reading program: Participants track their individual reading accomplishments — the number of books, minutes, or days read — in return for rewards or prizes when they meet defined goals. While many libraries have started incorporating “challenges,” or interactive activities, into their programs, tracking and prize redemptions are often still based on individual achievements.

It’s no wonder that so many libraries use this effective and impactful method, but many have started to realize the benefits of switching to (or incorporating) a community-wide goal for their programs. Read on to explore four reasons why your library should consider adding a far-reaching, shared goal to your summer program.

1. Community Goals Encourage Struggling Readers

When you remove the emphasis on individual logging, participants will feel like they can contribute without any judgment. While setting personal reading goals is still important, a community goal can be especially helpful for those who struggle with reading because it gives them a sense of accomplishment, no matter how much they contributed. For this reason, shared goals will likely increase the engagement of participants who are not the fastest readers or not reading at their grade level. Since their names will not be tied to a number of hours or books read, they will feel more comfortable doing what they can to help the community meet its goal.

2. Easier Tracking = Increased Participation

Less cumbersome tracking can lead to increased participation not just for struggling readers, but across the board. It can be stressful for parents to remember to track their individual kids’ progress, especially if they have younger children or travel during the summer program. And if they are using paper logs exclusively, those can be easily lost or damaged, especially if participants go through quite a few over the summer! Reducing the barriers and apprehension to participate in your program can lead to greater participant satisfaction, which will keep patrons coming back for next year’s summer reading program. They may be inspired to explore your library’s other programs as well!

3. Shared Prizes Promote Return Library Visits

Offering a larger, shared prize is a great opportunity for your library to directly respond to requests from the community. In fact, you can even use the community prize as a way to solicit ideas and opinions from your patrons. By asking for their suggestions for a community award, you may be able to collect even more ideas and insight that could help improve future library services — resulting in increased library visits year-round.

For instance, after moving to a community goal, one library offered a video games collection as a prize, something they had received numerous requests for in the past. The next year, the same library purchased oversized outdoor games that they now offer for checkout (popular for weddings, cookouts, and school field days). Introducing a fun, new resource will give your community members another reason to come back long after the summer reading program is over. You may also find that offering a large prize like these will increase your community’s awareness of some of the other great library services and collections that they had not known of previously.

4. Altruistic Summer Reading Programs Position the Library as a Community Hub

Improving library offerings is just one way you can reward your community for reaching a shared reading goal. By donating time, money, or expertise to organizations like animal shelters, homeless shelters, food banks, nature centers, recreation areas, and other nonprofits, libraries can build a sense of community and encourage goal setting beyond personal gain.

Do some research to learn about local organizations that can use your library’s help, and get ideas from patrons as well. Ideas include donating money, supplies, or services to a local animal shelter (or offering ongoing incentives, like 10 shelter dogs groomed for every 50 hours read, for example); holding a fun community event, such as a librarians vs. readers basketball game at a rec center; or planting flowers in a park when the goal is reached.

If your library is looking for a new way to engage your community and considering adding a community-wide goal to your summer reading program, Wandoo Reader can help! With Demco Software’s reading program management solution, your library can easily track and display your community’s progress toward their goal.

New for the 2019 summer reading season, Wandoo Reader is fully equipped to enable your library to set and track a community-wide reading goal! The software will automatically track and display your library’s progress toward its community-wide goal for all participants in the program. A new personal reading goal feature also allows participants to set and track progress toward their own personal goal, which will also encourage a greater level of investment in completing your program.

Feel inspired? Contact us today to discuss why tracking your library’s community-wide or individual reading goals with Wandoo Reader may be a great fit for your library!


“Altruistic Summer Reading Programs: Good Fun + Good Works,” California Library Association

Todd Feece

Todd Feece is a Senior Product Manager Demco Software. In this role, he collaborates closely with public libraries to understand how to best solve the challenges they face with new software solutions, or enhancements to our existing products.