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Keene Memorial Library

Keene Memorial Library

It’s not every day that you can meet 200 percent of your goal.

But Keene Memorial Library did that with its 2019 Summer Reading Program (SRP).

Laura England-Biggs, youth services librarian, talked about the program’s success when the library’s advisory board met Monday afternoon. She shared factors contributing to the SRP’s accomplishments, which she said included great newspaper support.

The library had a goal of registering 300 readers for its annual program, which ran from May to August, England-Biggs said.

This year, the library had 601 registered readers for the program, designed to keep kids reading throughout the summer and to instill a love of reading in them at a young age.

By comparison, the library met 85 percent of its goal with 296 registered readers in 2018.

During the SRP, young readers registered with the library to log their reading time onto a website called Beanstack.

Each day, they were to record how many minutes they read with a goal of reading 15 minutes a day.

For every 105 minutes — or one week’s worth of reading for 15 minutes per day — they would get a book from the library’s prize cart and a ticket, which they could submit for a chance to win one of the library’s grand prizes.

The grand prizes were given out in the form of raffle drawings. The prizes, provided by the Friends of Keene Memorial Library, included books and school supplies.

Grand prizes included an iPad with Osmo Creative for kids; a LeapFrog LeapPad with many educational games; an “Avengers Hero Inventor Kit”; and two Turing Tumbles in which players build marble-powered computers to solve puzzles.

Adults were able to win an iPad Mini. There were also passes donated from the Lincoln Children’s Museum, the Durham Museum, Omaha Children’s Museum and Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha.

England-Biggs said the library met 174 percent of its goal for logging readers with 434 this year, compared to 81 percent in 2018 with 202 readers.

The number of minutes people spent reading almost doubled in 2019.

Readers spent 513,677 minutes reading and the library met 164 percent of its goal.

That equates to between 13 to 15 minutes a day per reader.

“They were doing exactly what we challenged them to do, which was 15 minutes a day. We just had so many more people doing it that our numbers shot through the roof,” England-Biggs said.

She also said 215 people read for 945 minutes this year, compared to 90 people reading that long in 2018.

Children, adults and teens earned 4,215 prizes this year by reading or registering for the program.

Last year, they earned 1,533 prizes.

“As you can see, they more than doubled the number of prizes they earned and we did not expect that so we had prizes for maybe 2,000. Wow! We had to go back to the Friends for a little more money to buy a little more in the way of school supplies,” England-Biggs said.

School supplies were a new addition to the prizes this year.

“The school supplies took off like gangbusters. Kids were crazy about them,” she said, adding that young readers wanted the pencil bags stuffed with school supplies.

Tina Walker, library director, noted that tax dollars are not allowed to be used for the prizes. So prizes come through the Friends organization.

Walker also said the Friends won the American Library Association Friends of the Year Award for Outstanding Library Friends group. The Friends received $1,000, which they donated for prizes for summer reading.

Board member Shari Kment asked during the meeting if Walker – who writes a weekly column for the Fremont Tribune – could ask for donations of prizes from the public.

England-Biggs said that could be added to next year’s promotional ideas.

In summarizing this year’s program, England-Biggs said, “I think we did really well.”

“What do you attribute this growth, this success to?” asked Tom Adamson, the board’s newest member.

England-Biggs shared a list and at the top was newspaper coverage.

“We had really, really, really good newspaper support,” she said. “We had a lot of articles. We had great newspaper support promoting our events, our classes, promoting summer reading in general.”

England-Biggs mentioned the Beanstalk Winter Reading Challenges during the last couple of years in which they had great community support.

“They loved participating,” England-Biggs said.

In her February 2018 column, Walker reported that the final numbers for challenge were 84,002 books and 7,000,000 minutes read.

That year, the library received $1,500 from billionaire investor and Shark Tank personality Mark Cuban, who supported Beanstalk’s project. The library donated the funds to the Friends group to use to continue to support library programming.

England-Biggs also commended library staffers for their work in encouraging participation.

“The staff has been doing a really great job promoting it (the Summer Reading Program),” England-Biggs said.

Other factors have included: school visits, sharing on Facebook and local interest in the library expansion project. People who would come into the library during the flooding to look for help, would also ask about the expansion project and be asked if they were interested in the SRP – and would sign up, she said.

“It was a great summer and I’m worn out and I’m ready to hit the ground running for the next one,” England-Biggs said.

Board members thanked England-Biggs for her work.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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