Imagine Your Story 2020

| Grants | Meeting info | Other | Outreach | Prizes | Programs | Statistics | Timing | Tracking Reading |


The Finger Lakes Library System canceled the 2020 Summer Planning Meeting as a precautionary measure due to COVID-19.

A discussion of summer reading for 2020 was held on Thursday, May 7 at 10am via Zoom.


(Re)Imagine Your Story: Summer 2020

Summer 2020 will have to happen virtually or through contactless means to avoid spreading COVID-19. Check out the ideas on this page and in this article from American Libraries, Summer Reading Switcheroos.

Here are a few big picture ideas:

  • Keep it simple
  • Take care of yourself
  • This is not going to be like regular summer reading
  • Re-think / re-emphasize the goals for summer reading
    • Don’t focus on the number of programs or participants
  • Focus on taking care of yourself and your staff, there is a lot of virtual material out there already



You will need to keep track of summer reading statistics so that they can be submitted to the State Library, twice. Once for statewide collection of summer reading numbers and once on the annual report.

Key takeaway: Keep track of what you are doing, but don’t stress about it.

The State Library is still in the process of figuring out what statistics they are going to gather this year (they understand that this year is going to be different and they are working on making relevant changes to the statistics that they collect while still meeting what they need to submit to IMLS). In the past, they have typically ask for:

  • programs offered
    • include which audience the program was intended for and the attendance of children, teens, and adults at that program
      • if you can’t break down the ages of those in attendance, don’t stress about it, just record the total attendance
    • when these stats are collected, the programs are grouped by the intended audience and the attendance at that program should go into that same audience category (e.g. A children’s storytime that has 10 kids, 1 teen, and 8 adults counts as 1 children’s program with 19 attendance – the teen gets counted in the children’s program attendance, not in teen program attendance)
    • if a program is intended for families, all-ages, or is intergenerational, it should be counted in the children’s program category
  • registrants – children, teens, and adults
  • amount of time or books logged by registrants
  • other topics the State has asked about include:
    • online registration
    • collaborators

Southern Tier Library System put together this Google sheet to track virtual program attendance in line with what the State Library is looking for in terms of program statistics. Jenny S. modified the sheet to include a column for total views prior to deletion. Just be sure to indicate that the program was for summer reading, such as changing the row color.

Remember, all programs between your summer reading start and end dates count as summer reading programs.


Tracking Reading

The NYS Library makes the online registration and book/time logging software READsquared available for free. To create a READsquare site for your library, you will need to contact the company. It usually takes a couple of days for the company to set up your site. If you have had a READsquared site in the past, you do not need to create a new one. You just need to update your site for this year. Check out the NYS Library’s summer reading website for more information and archived webinars about READsquared.

The State Library hosted a webinar about READsquared on May 11. This webinar, along with previous READsquared webinars and additional information, is also available on the Summer Reading at New York Libraries READsquared webpage.

Other ideas for tracking reading include:

  • using Google forms
  • using printed sheets that patrons can then take pictures of as they complete them and then send the pictures to the library or post on social media using a specific hashtag



Check out Jenny’s archived webinar about virtual programming!

  • Virtual program ideas
    • storytimes
      • storytime scavenger hunt
    • book clubs
      • How to get books to participants?
        • In curbside delivery
        • Through school/summer meal delivery
        • Purchase on Amazon and have delivered to house
        • Perhaps partner with another organization that can reach the participants
        • Electronic copies
        • TumbleBooks
      • Alternative: mini book talks where everyone shares what they are reading
    • scavenger hunts
    • escape rooms
    • watch parties
    • bingo
    • photo challenges
    • Lego club
    • D & D
    • social media challenges
    • craft tutorials
    • writing clubs
  • Performers
  • Take-and-Makes
  • Call-in programs
  • Drive-in programs
    • If you don’t have the parking space, consider partnering with another community organization
    • Reminder: Outdoor movies require a different showing license than the site licenses many libraries purchase
  • Radio plays/readers theater
  • Sidewalk fun
  •  Storywalks
    • Include warnings about physical distancing and using masks
      • In Salem, Massachusetts, librarians added a printed disclaimer at the front of their StoryWalk, stating “While it is important to observe social distancing … we hope you still enjoy time outdoors reading and laughing as a family. Do maintain at least six feet of physical space between your family and others while reading the story, and do not touch or allow your children to touch the signs themselves.”
    • Make sure pages are far apart
    • Put up in less busy areas
    • If it looks like people aren’t following social distancing protocols, remove the storywalk
  • Programs on the lawn when gatherings are allowed (if you have the space, could partner with other organizations to use their space)
    • Mark off spaces that are at least 6ft apart
    • Yoga and Zumba
    • Instructor would need mic and speaker
    • Keep safety and security in mind
      • What are you going to do if people don’t maintain social distancing or won’t wear masks?
    • Maybe require registration
  • Many cities and towns have cancelled summer rec programs
    • Staff at these partner organizations may be furloughed




  • READsquared has digital badges and “coupons” for physical prizes
  • Book giveaway for signing up
  • Gift cards
    • Can be emailed
    • Local organizations probably won’t be able to donate this year
  • Tickets or gift cards to community banquets, dinners, BBQs, etc. (if they are happening this summer)
  • Community goal to make a donation to a charity
    • Make it a competition to choose the charity
    • Fill up a reading log bookmark and use bookmark to vote which charity the library should donate money to
    • May be some concerns (legal or community perception) about using taxpayer money to donate to charity, recommend using Friends or other money instead
  • Select a book for the library to add to the collection
  • READsquared has the ability to do a random drawing and automatically emails the winner to pick up prize “at the circulation desk” (or at curbside delivery in this case)



  • How are you planning to advertise what you are doing for summer reading?
  • How are you going to engage community partners?
  • What about local radio or TV stations?
  • Do you have front windows where you can put displays or I Spy challenges?



  • Contact granting organization with changes you want to make
  • Community Foundation has been good about allowing changes, but wants a surprising amount of additional information
  • CNY Arts wants to be kept informed of changes and wants changes thoroughly documented



  • Same as last year
  • Can do earlier since schools are closed (but you don’t have to)
  • Can do as short or as long as you are comfortable doing



  • In order to better support library efforts, CSLP has added a “Summer 2020 Reimagined” packet of resources that includes ideas from our current and past manuals. It contains six weeks of content highlighting early literacy, children, teens, adults, and families. The materials are divided by age group and are designed to be distributed directly to patrons as printed packets or online in a way that works best for your library. All activities provided are intended for patrons to do at home and are little to no cost. Be sure to download it at, under the online manual’s “Artwork and Program Files” section.
  • CSLP letter to libraries with orders that have not yet shipped:

Due to the unprecedented number of library closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CSLP will be placing all orders on temporary hold until further notice.

To receive your order before the hold is lifted, you will need to send one of the following to:

      • Confirmation that your library is able to receive packages at the address provided in the original order
      • Provide an alternate address (such as a residential address) where your order can be shipped
      • Indicate that you would like to have your order held at a local UPS depot for pick up

Libraries who do not respond will not receive their orders until routine shipping resumes; to be determined. Thank you.

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