Shelf Awareness with Julia Engel logo

It’s that time of year again — summer is coming! June 1 marks the first day of our “Summer at Your Library” program. Every year the program has a theme, and this year it is “Reading Colors Your World!”  We look forward to another colorful summer with our community as we begin to see some of the restrictions from the past year easing up and we start to return to some semblance of normalcy.  

The Summer at Your Library program has been a beloved tradition in our community and at libraries all across the country for many years. It is a great way for all members of the community to keep our brains engaged in learning, stay active, improve ourselves and enrich our lives during these upcoming summer months. It has been a conduit for connection, and though the program may look a bit different than it has in years past, it remains a steadfast institution.  

As a child 30-plus years ago, I remember participating in the program at a library in southwestern Ohio. I would get so excited to turn in my completed log to the librarian! It felt like such an accomplishment and helped to motivate me to keep my reading up. The fact that kids here in Oregon in 2021 can continue that tradition reminds me of how programs like this can connect us to each other even if we aren’t gathering in the same physical spaces.

One of the biggest goals of the summer reading program is to encourage kids to continue their reading practice throughout the summer to help combat the “summer slide” or summer learning loss. During the school year, resources at school for learning and growth are available for students. Over the summer some of these aren’t as accessible to students and without the reinforcement provided by school routines, this can result in a backslide in some of the progress they worked so hard to make during the school year. 

Keeping kids connected to educational resources over the summer through the Summer At Your Library program is a great way to help them retain the skills they learn during the school year, making it easier for them to jump back into their routines when they return to the classroom in the fall.  

Aside from the academic benefits of reading throughout the summer, it’s important to remember that reading is an enjoyable activity to engage in! It’s hugely beneficial for kids to be able to select their own reading material anytime but especially during the summer. Reading doesn’t have to be a chore or something they only have to do for homework at school, it is also just a fun way to pass the time.

Take a book along on a long road trip, read by the fire on a camping excursion or read while basking in the sun by the pool or at the beach. Visiting historical sites or museums as they begin to open up again can also be an opportunity to experience or learn something new, and then you can dive deeper by finding a book at the library related to what you learned from your visit!

We are offering the program for all ages: babies all the way up to adults. You can participate in the Summer At Your Library program this year by picking up materials at your local library branch. You will receive a free book bag, book and a paper log to track your reading over the summer. You can also participate by tracking your reading through the Beanstack app. Then return your paper log to any of our library locations and we will enter your name into a prize drawing. 

We will also continue our fun virtual events over the summer such as Facebook Live storytimes on Tuesday mornings every week at 10:30 a.m., READ Dogs Thursdays at 3 p.m., and Random Review for adults.  We also give out a free craft/activity kit for kids once a month. Stay tuned to our Facebook page and website for more information! 

The summer program serves as a tool to keep up the daily habit of reading as a vehicle for learning retention, but there is also a plethora of other activities parents and caregivers can do to help keep their kids active and learning over the summer.

Playing games and puzzles can also be a fun way to help stimulate and support your child’s intellectual growth and development. We have a variety of games and other tools that can help you explore the world around you in our Library of Things. You could try out the disc golf set, birding kit, or GoPro Hero for some more exciting ways to broaden your horizons this summer.  

You can get started by finding a great book to read by using our catalog. Or you could try a book about gardening, travel, the beach or outdoor activities. Check out these book lists on our website for more great ideas to help you find something fun, you can even sign up to have library staff select Personalized Picks just for you!  

Finally yet most importantly, we are pleased to announce that we will be opening our doors to the public for the first time since last March. Beginning June 14, the Philomath library will be opening for “Browse and Go” service during our normal pre-pandemic hours: Monday and Tuesday 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. and Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  You can come in to browse the collection, pick up holds, check out materials and receive assistance from staff.

We will have computer stations for limited use and public restrooms will be available. We will not be offering meeting room reservations, in-person programs or events, or furniture-like study tables yet at this time. All other branches of the library system will be reopening for browsing as well.

The Alsea and Monroe libraries will be opening June 1, and the Corvallis library will open on June 21. We are thrilled to welcome folks back into our buildings, we can’t wait to see everyone in person again!  

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions, you can reach out to the systemwide information service by phone at 541-766-6793 or 541-766-6448, via email at, or text: 541-326-0100.  You can also reach us at the Philomath library Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at 541-929-3016.   

Happy summer and happy reading, we hope to see you at the library very soon!

(Julia Engel is a reference librarian at Philomath Community Library. She can be reached via email at or by phone at 541-929-3016.)