Summer Listening/Watching Programs?

Most of us got into the profession because we love books, but let’s face it, the majority of our service areas aren’t avid readers.  Yet, for many public libraries, the biggest event each year is the Summer Reading Program.  Encouraging kids and adults to read is admirable, and many libraries allow audiobooks as entries on the summer reading form, but to let book haters participate and get their prize, why not consider having Summer Listening Programs or Summer Watching Programs?  I’m drawing the line at Summer Gaming Programs, but I suppose they can be educational too (I’m thinking of chess and Scrabble, but there are worthwhile videogames aren’t there?)…

Might be a great way to draw nonusers in, and it’ll expand your listener’s and viewer’s advisory skills.  It will also allow those with learning disabilities to participate.  We decided against prescriptive librarianship long ago, so why the need to focus on reading?

After all, our libraries are loaded with other types of media, and we know that many people are kinesthetic or auditory learners rather than visual ones.  So why shouldn’t we shake the SRP concept up a bit?  If you’re worried that the program participants will just be watching worthless tripe, you could have a specific focus – say NOVA, documentary or foreign films.  A music program could aim to teach people about different genres.  Require them to listen to six albums – e.g. one each of classical, jazz, folk, famous speeches, world and barbershop quartet 🙂  You could even link it to reading by requiring that they read a little bit about the musical genre or the subject of the documentary, or country the foreign film is set in…  Or better yet, require each participant to answer the question “What’s the most interesting thing you learned about this ______________ (music genre, country, topic etc)?” and then link their comment (anonymously) to your catalog entry for that item.  Your patrons will love reading what others have to say about that CD or DVD.

So tell me, is this something you’re doing?  Or do you already accept DVDs or music or audiobooks on patrons’ summer reading lists?  Or am I just way off base (and if so, why)?

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1 Response to Summer Listening/Watching Programs?

  1. Kathy S says:

    Listening to audiobooks counts as reading! When I promote SRP, I always make sure to mention that. I also say that reading minutes are reading minutes, whether they’re reading a magazine, a book, an internet site, comics, or listening.

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