Its Summer Again! Tuesday, Jun 30 2009 

Summer means many things to each of us.  It is a time of relaxation, vacations, family reunions, picnics, and trips. In Hampton Roads Virginia it can be a time of heat, humidity, mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks and a strong desire to head inside and place oneself next to the nearest air conditioning vent!

For those with children who have been released from the educational system until after Labor Day, it can be a challenge. I remember those long days with our kids and what was involved in keeping boredom at bay.

As always, the library has a solution to keeping young minds active and contented. It is called the “Summer Reading Program”. At both our locations and through our Mobile Library Services vehicles, Williamsburg Regional Library staff have planned an active and challenging program for youth from birth through entering grade 12 who reside in the City of  Williamsburg, James City County or York County.

For youth from birth through entering grade 5  there is our “Some Enchanted Reading” program.  For specific information on program activities click here .

For youth entering grade 6 through entering grade 12 the library provides the “Wheel of Reading” program. For specific information on program activities click here.

The library also comes to a variety of community locations to provide programs and reading activities for youth. The Williamsburg/James City County Schools summer school program receives an in class daily reading program, as well as weekly visits from Mobile Library Service vans. Each class reads everyday and records it on a special poster. The students in classes that read everyday will receive a poster at the end of the program. Youth Services and Mobile Library Services Staff are visiting James City County Parks and Recreation sites each week with a variety of programs that promote books and reading. The library is also participating in Camp Discovery, run by the James City County Parks and Recreation, by providing a series of storytimes. During their neighborhood and childcare center stops Mobile Library Services staff are promoting the summer reading program with storyhours and programs.

The Williamsburg Regional Library is able to provide these programs and events for our youth due to the support of the Herbert Friedman Library Fund, Friends of Williamsburg Regional Library, and over 50 local individuals and businesses who provide financial assistance, incentive items and prizes for program participants. Without these fine organizations and individuals the Library would not be able to provide the quality and depth of  summer reading programming that we do. My thanks go out to each of these sponsors and to our hard working and dedicated staff.

So long for now!

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Programming Thursday, Jun 5 2008 

Thanks to wonderful community support and an outstanding staff, the Williamsburg Regional Library is known for the variety and excellence of its program offerings. The Dewey Decibal Concerts are completing another successful season. Patrick Golden, Program Services Director is hard at work on next season’s concert schedule. Patrick will post new concerts on the site as they are confirmed. Each year it is a delight to see new talented groups grace the auditorium stage as well as welcome old favorites back for another exciting evening’s performance.

Over the years Williamsburg Regional Library has been host to many exhibits on a wide variety of topics. These high quality exhibits have covered subjects as diverse as jazz, women in Virginia and George Washington. Beginning in June, the Library will be on of 40 sites in the country and one of two public libraries in Virginia to host a traveling exhibit on Alexander Hamilton. The exhibit will be available from June 26 to August 8 at the James City County Library on Croaker Road in Norge. Thanks go to Friends of Williamsburg Regional Library for funding the exhibit and the programming associated with it.

Our Youth Services Division is nationally known for the quality and variety of its program offerings. Regular story hours are held at both library locations. Our summer reading program mentioned in an earlier post is a highlight of the season for children and parents alike. The program calendar for this summer’s activities includes a one-man band, a ballet, and a wide variety of storytimes and crafts.

Our Adult Services Division has a popular Thursday afternoon film series as well as a Third Thursday program.

The Outreach Division provides programming for individuals who can not come to the library. This programming is provided to preschools, child care centers and continuing care facilities. Programming includes story-hours, book talks and holiday themed events.

Thus, when you think of the Library remember that quality programming is an essential part of what we offer to the community.

So long for now!

Summer Reading Programs Friday, Apr 11 2008 

One of my earliest childhood memories was going to the public library and participating in the summer reading program. I can still remember one program where there was a travel theme and I got a paper picture of a suitcase on which I could place country stamps after I had read a book on the country in question. I remember the great satisfaction that I had when the summer was over and my suitcase was overflowing with stamps.

What do I remember about the countries? Not much. My parents were probably thrilled that this activity has caused their very active son to be quiet for long periods of time and out of their hair. Did it make me a better student when I returned to school in the fall? I do not remember nor do I have report cards to prove the case one way or the other.

Public libraries have long claimed that summer reading programs do have value for the retention of student reading skills over the long summer. Do we have empirical proof of this belief? Not much, as very little research has been done in this area.

At the Williamsburg Regional Library we are concerned about the value of the programs and services that we offer to our community. So we set out to find if our summer reading program does provide value for those enrolled in it. The library contracted with the Center for Summer Learning of the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland to do a study on our summer reading program.

After going through all the required paperwork and permissions, a research group consisting of students at James River and Matthew Whaley Elementary Schools were given pre-tests prior to summer vacation. Their participation or non-participation in our summer reading program was then documented and a retest was given when these students returned to school in the fall. The study showed that for students going into second grade in the fall there was a statistically significant continuance of reading skill on the part of those who participated in our summer reading program as opposed to those who did not participate in the summer reading program. For students going into the fifth grade in the fall there was a significant difference in reading behaviors on the part of those participating in our summer reading program as opposed to those who did not participate.

What does this tell us. First, that for younger children the summer reading program does what we have indicated it does, help students retain or improve their reading skills over the summer vacation period. Second, that by the time children grow older, summer reading programs provide motivation to continue to read. Teachers of both age levels indicated that summer reading participants exhibited more learning readiness skills in the fall than those who had not participated in the program.

What are we doing with this information?

Our Youth Services and Outreach Divisions are intensifying our work with community partners to get more young children, particularly those from lower income settings, into the program. As a part of our on-going summer reading program evaluation, data from the study will be used as we consider how we might adjust our program content for all children.

So long for now!