Many of you realize that we are already in the final stages planning for the 2017 Summer Reading program. Our wish lists are distributed in the library for items that people may have in their homes, be willing to purchase to contribute, or even saved from the trash bin.

Over the last 10 years, the Bertha Bartlett Public Library’s summer reading program has evolved tremendously, but so have the costs. Just a few weeks ago, the Roland library announced they had received funding from United Way for their summer reading program, a project that most libraries do each year. United Way has been kind to libraries over the years, helping us start our Storytime Express project, which takes storytimes to the home daycares. They have also helped fund the Story County Library Association Tween Read project for the past few summers. This project combines the time and talent of 11 public libraries, and allows us to do unique events at the end of the summer. It allows the United Way program to have a greater impact across the county, and allows us all to benefit from countywide donations.

We have always understood that any grant programs needed to find a way to self-sustain, and that is what we have done with Storytime Express. We have incorporated the time and planning of this project into our budget and as long as we are able, have no plans to eliminate. Since we have had ever-increasing participation in the summer reading program projects, this always takes a priority, and we try to budget enough money into our operations.

Unfortunately we never seem to budget enough. After receiving the program ideas from the state, and with my team of children and teen program coordinators submitting their plans, we quickly saw that our budget wasn’t going to cover this summers program … again! Special programs that usedto run $175, now are costing $350. Programming materials that tie into the summer theme of “Building a Better World” came in at a shocking number, mostly because we didn’t have any of the suggested materials already in-house. Our library boards and foundation have been generous in past years, and we expect they will again, but we have opted to reach out into the community for assistance.

Tools for activities and books to support those activities allow our children to explore areas such as electronics, construction, computer programming, mechanics and electricity. Hands-on activities that we have added to our Makerspace project area, fit this theme, but we are in need of more. From Snap Circuits to Keva Planks, Circuit Bugs to Legos, we have acquired a start for the summer projects, but still have some ways to go.

So we have been blessed to already have some very generous donations, from bags of pretzels, and chocolate for our Teen groups, to erasers, paper clips and pompons that will help our “design team.” Our thanks to the individuals who have gone shopping for us!

We’ve also had a number of businesses who have written checks to help us keep our youth busy this summer. Those so far include Key Cooperative, Oakland Corporation, PDG Printing, Story City Building Products and Security State Bank.

Providing quality programs for our youth that will keep everyone engaged and involved all summer long is a challenge for parents and librarians alike. It takes the entire community to help, and we are so grateful for all the time and energy that comes from volunteers, staff and our boards. When summer comes along, we are in high gear for a sustained stretch, so knowing the community is behind our efforts makes it all easier.

If you have any questions about the programs or projects we have to offer here at the Bertha Bartlett Public Library, or its branch in Gilbert, don’t hesitate to visit our website, our Facebook page or our newsletter that we distribute. Together we hope to build a better library and a better community for all of us!