How Robust Reporting Can Increase Your Summer Reading Program’s Impact

Jan 17, 2019 | Articles

Your library does an impressive amount of work for your community. You dream up, promote, and coordinate engaging programs for local children, teens, adults, and seniors. You curate a multifaceted collection of resources that meets your patrons’ most pressing information needs. You manage partnerships with key businesses and organizations so that your library is more than just a physical space — it’s a vibrant community hub.

But how do you know — and show your library’s decision-makers — that you are truly making an impact? The key is in the reporting!

Strategically collecting and sharing data about your programs, resources, and partnerships can lead to many positive outcomes. Solid reporting can help your library:

  • Make smarter decisions about where to invest your staff’s time and effort.
  • Expand your support network, since your data will help community members understand how your library is making a difference and why they should be vocal library advocates.
  • Provide your county board, city council, or other decision-makers with concrete stats on how your library is making a positive impact on the community.
  • Prove your library’s value in partnering with local businesses.

While all of your initiatives can benefit from comprehensive reporting, your summer reading program is at the top of the list, as it is likely one of your library’s biggest events of the year. Read on to discover how reporting can help you increase your program’s impact.

What Should I Report About My Summer Reading Program?

You have options when it comes to the data that you collect about your summer reading program. You likely already track registration numbers, which is a great start, but don’t stop there. For example, you can also track:

  • Day of the week or time of day people are registering
  • Participation rates by age group
  • Participation rates by region
  • Collective minutes read by all participants

Getting creative with your reporting can lead to an increase in your reading program’s participation rates. For example, in 2018, Douglas County Libraries (DCL), Colorado’s fourth-largest library system, challenged all Douglas County residents to read 7 million minutes and promised to donate $500 to a local animal shelter if the community met the goal. Kristen Kallio, Special Events Coordinator for the library, saw collecting and reporting on this program data as having a huge impact on engagement with the library’s program, especially with adults in the community. In fact, in 2018 the community ended up logging over 7.2 million minutes of reading and completed more than 90,000 Challenges, or activities coordinated by the library that provide different ways of engaging with the summer reading program. 

How Can I Utilize Reports Throughout the Program?

You don’t have to wait until the end of your program to analyze and share. Here are a few suggestions for ways you can leverage your data throughout the program instead of waiting until it wraps up:

  • Run registration reports after your registration kickoff to see which regions in your service area are showing low registration numbers. If you can, plan extra outreach campaigns in those regions or identify other strategies to reach them to understand why registration numbers are low. If you use an online reading program management tool like Wandoo Reader, you will have filtering options that allow you to break down registrants by school, library branch, age range, or any other registration field you set up. Use this insight to plan outreach to local schools, where you can register readers on the spot.
  • Check in on prize redemption rates at regular intervals throughout the program. If you notice that a certain branch has lower rates than others, consider setting up satellite prize redemption spots. This way community members who can’t make it to the physical library are still incentivized to participate in your program. This can also help expand awareness of your library to community members who may not know all that you have to offer them.
  • Provide up-to-the-minute updates on community progress from the beginning to the end of your program. Remember DCL’s community reading challenge mentioned above? They offered a valuable, community-building incentive — a donation to a local animal shelter — and kept community members’ attentions by offering real-time updates on how many minutes had been read as a little extra motivation.

How Can I Generate Customized Reports?

Just like you’ve got options when it comes to what type of reporting you’ll do, you’ve got options when it comes to how you’ll gather data and generate those reports as well. While some libraries are happy using manual paper-and-pen (or spreadsheet) tracking methods, others have found it beneficial to modernize their summer reading program management with a tool like Wandoo Reader, Demco Software’s online year-round reading program management solution.

 Libraries like DCL use Wandoo Reader to:

  • Create more accurate and robust reports that include more than just registration numbers.
  • Save staff time running these essential reports.
  • Make it easier for the library to share reports on its summer and year-round programs’ success.

Learn more about how DCL simplified its summer reading program registration while gaining robust reporting capabilities with Wandoo Reader by downloading the case study today.

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.