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There are as many ways to run a Summer Library Program as there are libraries.  Many SLP programs include some kind of incentive for participating, reading, or volunteering.  Here are a few ideas generated at the workshop about things that can motivate teens to participate:

  • Letting kids count reading of ANYTHING, not being picky about what
  • Consider doing a collective prize, for the teen area:  if we read 3000 hours collectively, the library will purchase a Wii, X-Box, Comfy chair, laptops, pizza oven for programs.  According to Penny, this was extremely effective in Baraboo, but got a little unsustainable budget-wise, with a feeling of needing to up the ante.
  • In Baraboo:  The first 8 hours, they get a book or a pizza coupon (Papa Murphy's has a literacy program and gives out coupons to libraries); the next 8 hours, and every 8 hours after that, they get 5 prize lottery tickets to use for prizes for totebags, food, gift cards, posters, decks of cards, gift certificates for miniature golf, etc.
  • In one library (forgot to write down where!) kids earn one starbuck per hour, then use at the end of the summer party to bid on hidden prizes, which range from an iTunes card to a package of ramen--the element of surprise makes it fun
  • There was some support for holding grand prize drawings in private, not as part of a big party
  • Menomonie has a Lame Prize of the Week--donated from staff garages and basements.  The "lamer" the better--kids are disappointed if the prize isn't silly enough.
  • New Richmond experimented with giving out cold, hard cash last year--they got gold coins to make prizes of $50, $75, $100 and $125.  Kids earn tickets for reading 5 hours a week (extra chances if they submit a book review)

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    • I used a Choose Your Own Adventure format (stolen from the Brown County Library), back in the day (way back when Choose Your Own Adventure books were really a hot commodity).  Community members donated time (a day with a large animal vet, an afternoon on the Coast Guard Cutter, a behind-the-scenes tour of the local theater, a chance to make something with a local neon artist, that sort of thing).  I'm sure there are insurance ramifications for this wacky idea, but it sure was a fun way to connect teens with adults who share a passion.

    I'm sure there are more ways to do this--what do you do?