The Reading Creativity Crate program is the socially distanced solution to our summer reading program. Many of our patrons love and rely on summer reading so we knew we had to make it work.
Based on the model for subscription crates, patrons can choose a box according to their age group. The box contains books, craft materials and a variety of resources that cover two weeks of summer reading activities.
We have five crates to choose from: pre-K, 1st-4th grade, 5th-8th grade, 9th-12th grade and adult.
The first thing we did was look at our past summer reading program attendance numbers by age group so we could get a sense of how many boxes to make. Our sign-up numbers ranged from 80 at our lowest year to 140 in the highest. Because we are still working with a reduced number of an already-small staff, we chose to fill 100 boxes, divided into age ranges by the stats we reviewed.
We used eight boxes to run a test crate with some of the staff's children. The kids told us what they liked and didn't like about the crates, including their thoughts on the overall presentation. With those small changes in mind, we chose to deliver the boxes on a two-week cycle so we would have time to prepare them for delivery.
The next step was to order the boxes needed (the cheapest we found was on Amazon ) and find a good place to cheaply order books. I suggest Book Depot  or Bargain Books Wholesale . Both have been wonderful to work with, and delivery was fast.
We use several channels for marketing this program. The local newspaper, Facebook , the local radio station, and our community partners will help with promotion. We have sign-ups through Eventbrite so we can limit the numbers in the age ranges. We will also be putting fliers out to the community.
We used most of our $3,000 summer reading budget. The budget is for both adult and children's books for June and July. Once all books, supplies and prizes were purchased, we averaged less than $7 per book, putting the cost at $2,800 for the summer.
Sign-ups will begin on May 18 and is limited to Bath County residents. Patrons will be able to pick up their Creativity Crates beginning June 1. We will be delivering to those who are not able to pick them up that week.
The boxes include two books, supplies for two crafts, supplemental resources for additional crafts/information and a brochure listing read-a-likes for the books and something of interest about the box's theme. The adults will have only one book with their crafts and other resources. (See sample contents under Attachments at right.)
We will insert surveys in boxes and encourage participants to contact us so we can get an idea of how well they are working.
Make sure you have willing staff to help deliver your boxes. Time will tell if limiting the number of boxes per age group was a good idea, but considering the shipping times of some companies, we wanted to make sure we were not left waiting for material if we didn't have enough.
About This Library
Bath County Memorial Library is a small, rural library serving a population of 12,600. Our school system has an 82 percent free or reduced lunch demographic. Most of the rural community is or was part of a tobacco farming community. We have a 40 percent functional literacy rate in the community.