Officials with the Tulsa City-County Library want to restore participation in the Summer Reading Program. The 2015 program had 16,013 participants, a 51 percent decline from 33,194 participants in 2014. “We are disappointed to see the numbers drop like this,” said Chief Operating Officer Kim Johnson. “The Summer Reading Program is an important way to help children, teens and adults learn to read or improve their reading skills and our goal is to make this program available to as many participants as possible.”
To determine the cause for the decline, the library asked detailed questions in an annual post-program survey to those who participated in 2015 as well as previous years. The library has routinely conducted this survey in previous years as well, in an effort to make ongoing improvements to the Summer Reading Program.
The survey was conducted online and promoted through various promotional channels, including Tulsa-area news media reports. 812 individuals completed the survey. A summary of findings is below:
- 97 percent of respondents say they plan to continue to bring their children to a library location throughout the year.
- 88 percent would recommend the Summer Reading Program to others.
- 62 percent heard about the program at a library branch.
- 70 percent indicated their child’s reading skills improved as a result of the program.
- 73 percent said they visited the library more during the summer because of the program.
- 89 percent reported their children enjoyed the program.
- 58 percent have library cards; 42 percent do not.
Although the survey indicated the Summer Reading Program delivered value to the majority of participants, two elements of the program also disappointed respondents. First, registration for the program was only available online and second, all participants were required to have a library card.
- 81 percent of survey respondents indicated their child did not enjoy the online component and 60 percent felt the online system was not easy to use.
- Of the survey respondents who did not participate this year: 54 percent said their reason for not participating was that a library card was required and; 50 percent indicated the required online registration process as their reason for not participating.
“It’s clear to us that our customers did not embrace the changes we made for the library card requirement and the online registration process,” Johnson said. “Next year, we will not require online registration or library cards for participants. We would like to see all children have a library card but we recognize making it a requirement posed challenges for some families and large groups.”
For the 2016 Summer Reading Program, officials will make the following changes:
For Children and Teens Program
- The registration process will return to a paper-based system with an option for online registration.
- A library card will not be required to participate, although the library encourages all participants to have a library card.
- A staff committee will assist with planning, prize selection and will explore a new online option that is intuitive and easy to use.
- A community focus group will be formed with approximately 25 people to assist library staff in identifying and recommending prizes.
- Registration will be online with the option for paper registration. In addition to the procedural changes, the library will develop a communication plan to promote the Summer Reading Program to the general community and also to those from previous programs. For information, go to www.tulsalibrary.org or call 918-549-7323.