Both the Kent Island and Centreville branches of the Queen Anne’s County Library were filled throughout the summer this year, with almost 2500 county residents participating in the Library’s 2019 Summer Reading Program.
The program’s theme—A Universe of Stories—celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and library staff offered book recommendations, arts programs, and expert speakers focused on this theme throughout June, July, and August. Summer Reading Program participants were encouraged to read and/or visit their library everyday during the summer months, as the Library offered a range of ways for kids to build on what they had practiced and learned during the school year and for adults to pursue the goal of lifelong learning.
“Summer reading programs at public libraries help to prevent summer learning loss. Libraries encourage a love of reading by providing access to a wide variety of reading materials for children’s free reading. Our program guide includes a reading calendar so children can set reading goals. The Library provides over one hundred free youth events each summer that extend the learning experience,” said Queen Anne’s County Library youth services coordinator Julie Ranelli.
For the second year in a row, the Friends of Queen Anne’s County Library—a non-profit group committed to helping the Library achieve its goals—covered the full costs of the Summer Reading Program. Thanks to the generosity of Friends members and its platinum-level Community Sponsors–721 on Main, AQUA Swimming & Training, Soistman Family Dentistry & Associates, Kent Island American Legion, Hardee’s and Sweet Frog–the Friends were able to provide $16,000 to cover the costs of the program’s special events, free t-shirts for the first 900 registrants, all program supplies, and more.
This summer, 1606 Queen Anne’s county kids and 807 county adults were Summer Reading Program participants. In addition to the educational benefits of participating in the program, participants had the opportunity to win prizes throughout the summer from generous donors–including Anchors & Oars of Grasonville, Bellies, Babies, & Beyond of Chester, and Johnnson’s Game Vault in Centreville. For kids this year, one of the most popular prizes was a pack of 4 tickets to a Chesapeake Bayhawks game, generously provided by the Major League Lacrosse team in Annapolis. Alexis Motto, a 7 year-old second grader at Kent Island Elementary School, was the happy winner of this prize, and said that this was the prize she had her eye on all summer. Alexis, a member of the Kent Island Youth Lacrosse league, also reports that the best book she read this summer was An Octopus Followed Me Home.
Throughout July, 500 kids who visited the library also received a coupon for a free kids’ meal at Hardee’s as a reward for their commitment to reading, even when school was closed. Kids, and parents alike, were very appreciative of this incentive provided by our local Hardee’s restaurants. Kids who completed the program received coupons for free treats from Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt.
Reflecting the “in the skies” theme of the summer, the Grand Prize for the Adult Summer Reading Program was a gift certificate for two people to take a hot-air balloon ride over our beautiful Eastern Shore. A loyal library user was the lucky winner of this prize, selected from more than 950 entries in the raffle. This prize was made possible by Delmarva Balloon Rides owner Todd Davis, as well as by a generous grant from the Citizens for Maryland Libraries, in support of Queen Anne’s County Library’s goal to increase adult participation in the Summer Reading Program.
Friends of the Library board member Beth Maier worked with Library leadership to ensure it had the resources it needed to make this summer program a special one. “The Summer Reading Program is such a clear example of how our library benefits the community and how it is a key piece of the educational and civic framework of Queen Anne’s County. The Friends have made a commitment to supporting this program in future years, and we are confident that our members and others in the community will agree that this is an important investment and definitely worthy of support. Any individual, group, or business interested in supporting this effort should reach out to the Friends of the Library!”
Of course, the Library doesn’t only run programs in the summer months, and the calendar for September and onward is filled with ongoing and new programs for community member. Programs will cover a whole range of interests—including literature, art, history, geneaology, wellness, and much more—for people of all ages. Per Queen Anne’s County Library director Janet Salazar, “Both branches of our library system function as the town hall and the community center – the hub – connecting our community to self-directed and self-paced education, tutoring programs, computers, wifi and internet access, and meeting spaces for businesses, entrepreneurs, and community groups. This connectedness is what defines a thriving community and supports our mission to educate and enrich our community through free access to resources.” The Friends of the Library are proud to support this vital institution.