A library-museum partnership has resulted in a 60% jump in summer-reading participation at the Indianapolis–Marion County Public Library’s infoZone branch, which is located inside the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “All of our library locations were buzzing with activity, but the Children’s Museum exceeded our expectations,” IMCPL Director of Programming and Project Development Chris Cairo said of the 1,350 infoZone participants. “To see that kind of growth at one of our most popular venues is especially gratifying.”
It didn’t hurt that IMCPL’s summer-reading theme, “A Science Odyssey,” meshed so well with the 11-year-old branch’s unique location, “which puts us in the midst of families each day,” Branch Manager Joan Emmert told American Libraries, noting that the theme “was a perfect match for young people who also took advantage of our many digital activities and science workshops.”
Emmert also cited infoZone’s June involvement in the museum’s monthly Target Free Family Night. “Overall, we reached more families that evening, signing them up for the program and talking about the science theme of the reading program and how important it is that reading continues throughout the summer. Parents understand that message.” Additionally, the branch took the proactive step of making available for checkout to neighborhood youngsters backpacks filled with books. “That made it easy for them to sign up for summer reading, which they were eager to do,” Emmert explained.
The emphasis on science is part of a two-year IMCPL initiative to bolster the interest of young people in science, which ties into a multipronged national education initiative to improve education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Altogether, some 53,000 families participated systemwide this summer—albeit, a 3% decrease from last year’s registration but still a strong show of interest since the 26% reduction in service hours last fall due to budget cuts.