In an effort to attract recent high school graduates back to the library before they left for college, the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library incorporated an existing program for what are considered emerging adults to return to a place they may have spent time in when younger.
“Emerging Adult Lit Kits,” was a summer program that began in early July and concluded at the end of August, having emerging adults, 18 to 25, take part in a survey on the library website.
Based on the responses, students were given handmade-lit kits by librarians that included two library books and a few surprises such as diamond paintings, coasters, cooling towels, stickers and other items.
Questions varied, which helped librarians identify what participant’s interests were.
“The kids would fill out a form online on the library’s website that asked what kind of books they like, what they don’t like, authors they like and etc.,” said Shannon Dalrymple, the HWPL Youth Services librarian.
The program was an expansion of the lit kit program for teenagers last year in its inaugural year for those aged 11 to 18. Those who participated in that program may have felt some déjà vu.
“It was pretty popular with our teens and we have a lot of kids that aged out of the teen program that we want to keep around in the library,” Dalrymple said.
Library officials gave credit to the upstate Port Jervis Free Library, which has a monthly-lit kit for its community. The reading survey along with snacks, activities, crafts and other freebies are included in the Port Jervis package.
Dalrymple was in charge of the program for emerging adults, which included creating the HWPL kits and reviewing the answers to the survey for the program. A dozen signed up, but it was 12 more than they expected in its first year for the new group, she said.
“When Shannon came on board, she is an emerging adult herself, so I thought she would be very good to reach that age group,” librarian Caroline Lynch said. “She will continue doing things for them.”
Lynch coordinated the program for the teenagers and saw a massive boost from its first year last year, as 34 teens signed up, an increase of 6 from last year.
“We promoted on social media and going to the schools,” Lynch said. “For the middle school, we went to the English classrooms and spoke about it. I also think word-of-mouth helped. Kids were telling each other about it.”
Both said the library members favorite choice of books were mysteries and thrillers.
Dalrymple also recognizes that college students use the library in other ways, such as using the library’s database and e-book services.
Nonetheless, both Dalrymple and Lynch are gathering ideas on bringing the group of college students back into the library physically when they are on break — starting with getting the lit kits back for next summer for their respective age groups, with the possibility of a winter session, too. Another possible activity as a paint night coordinated when the college students are home on break.
“The lit kits encourage teens to use the library by providing them with prizes addition to personalized book recommendations,” Dalrymple wrote in an email. “It is our hope that teens will be inspired to keep using the library once they see we’re more than just books.”