As you review the administrative tools your library uses to manage services and programming, consider leveraging online resources to maximize your efforts. In the following interview, fellow library worker Crystal Swimmer explains how a reading tracker did so much more for her community than merely log activity.
Question 1: What online tool are you promoting?
- Name: Beanstack
- Purpose: We originally purchased it as an online tool to host our summer reading program in 2020 when our library was only open for lobby service; now, we use it to host all of our reading challenges.
- Price: Approximately $8000
Question 2: How did you find out about this tool?
Some of our employees had used Beanstack at other library systems for their previous jobs. Others had heard about it through co-workers or from participating in reading challenges hosted by other library systems that were using it.
Question 3: As a youth services library worker, how do you use this tool to support your community?
Beanstack has been immensely helpful in creating a new way for our library system to continue our summer reading challenge during a world-wide pandemic. We still wanted to be able to continue our yearly tradition, but needed a way for patrons to be able to register and log their books without having to fill-out a registration card or use a paper log to keep track of their books. It allows us to do all of this electronically and so much more.
Furthermore, it has created a sense of community for our library system and has provided a way to connect all seven of our libraries in a very tangible way for our patrons by allowing us to have community goals for our challenges and share book reviews for all the participants to see. In addition, Beanstack allows families to have one main account with each participant registered as a reader for that account which has really made summer reading an activity for the whole family, instead of just the kids.
As a youth services librarian, I think Beanstack has made summer reading more fun and interactive for everyone, especially the kids. They can earn badges once they achieve particular reading goals, collect tickets for entering prize drawing, and track our community goal—which many of our young patrons have given positive feedback on. They are not only reaching their own reading goal but are also motivated to continue reading more to help the community reach its goal.
In short, Beanstack has worked so well for our summer reading challenge that we’ve also started participating in their annual Winter Reading Challenge. In 2021, our library system read over 75,000 books in the month of January and won a prize pack that not only gave us new books for the collection but also gave our patrons a virtual author visit. It was such a wonderful way to reward our patrons for their participation—not just as individuals but also as a community that came together and completed a goal.
Crystal Swimmer is the Youth Services Coordinator for the Montgomery County Memorial Library System. She creates and implements system-wide programming in coordination with 22 youth services employees and serves as the children’s librarian for the Central Library.
This is part of a series written for the CSLP slogan “Oceans of Possibilities.” For the associated programming resources, graphics, and book lists, peruse the 2022 program manual on the CSLP website.