As everyone knows, all great ideas come from Ohio and one's mother. In 2005, my mother (a retired public librarian) asked me why my library system didn't offer a Summer Reading Program for adults. It was a valid question. My small hometown library sponsored such a program. Why didn't a big city library in Baltimore do the same? And, why should summer reading be just for kids? I discussed the idea with my Light Street Branch coworkers and garnered the support of my branch manager.
The staff pulled its creative talents together, decided on a theme, and created a game sheet suggesting activities for adults to have a fun summer reading experience. Our initial theme of Get Real Wild was a hit. The branch had 62 adults registered. In the following years, we designed game sheets based on new themes and established a strong following of support among our branch patrons.
The Pratt Library developed the first system-wide adult summer reading program in 2009. Several branches had already followed Light Street Branch's lead in providing summer reading options for adults, but now it was time for a coordinated effort to attempt to make the program as popular as the children's and teens'.
In 2011, the Pratt Library participated in the national adult summer reading theme announced by the Collaborative Summer Library Program and required each Pratt location to participate. Baltimore businesses donated gift certificates for raffle prizes, an online challenge was launched, participants were given the opportunity to write book reviews to be published online, and we added a GRAND prize of a new eReader.
The community support and patron enthusiasm for the program has been overwhelmingly positive. In 2012, 824 adults participated systemwide and read 6,715 books. As the popularity of the program continues to grow, we hope to see even more significant gains in 2013. Baltimore truly is a City that Reads!