GREENFIELD — Officials at the Hancock County Public Library are ramping up their efforts to reach a milestone of 1 million items circulated this year – a goal they hope will get a boost with the summer reading program, which kicks off today.
Reaching 1 million items checked out will be a record for the library, which circulated more than 900,000 items last year. The total includes not only books but electronic materials and other digital downloads.
At the library board’s meeting earlier this month, director Dave Gray told board members the library had recorded about 316,000 checkouts in 2014. That’s not quite where the library needs to be to reach its goal, but with the enthusiasm generated by the summer reading program, Gray is confident.
“Summer, that’s our largest time, circulation-wise,” he said, “so we are in a very good spot right now.”
Youth services manager Cathy Riley is encouraging parents to take advantage of the summer reading program not only to help the library reach its goal but to keep children engaged during the summer months.
Even with county schools’ balanced calendars, which shorten the summer in favor of adding longer breaks throughout the year, the summer still presents a potential learning gap.
Students can also lose ground in their reading skills, causing teachers to have to spend the beginning of the year reviewing.
“When kids don’t get any kind of educational or learning experience throughout the summer, … for just June and July here in Hancock County, they lost approximately two months out of the school year,” Riley said. “When our kids don’t read, it really hurts our education system.”
Summer reading clubs are also available for teens and adults.
Adult program coordinator Shannon Bahler said more advanced readers can lead by example by signing up to pledge to read over the summer.
“Children learn from adults,” she said. “Just being a good reading role model for them is so critical.”
Riley cited research showing that children who don’t read during the summer can end up two grade levels behind in their reading skills by the time they reach sixth grade.
“I want to do a lot better,” she said. “I want to make an impact. The benefits are for the kids.”
Readers may join the summer reading club by visiting either branch of the library today or do so from home through the library’s website, hcplibrary.org.
Special events are planned at both locations of the Hancock County Public Library to celebrate the kickoff of the summer reading program today.
The Greenfield Fire Department will park a fire truck in front of the main library in Greenfield between 10 a.m. and noon. After a tour of the truck and a treat, children can come inside to sign up for summer reading club and select a free book.
Children can tour the Sugar Creek Fire Department’s truck on the same day from 10 a.m. to noon at the library’s Sugar Creek Branch in New Palestine.