This winter the Adult Department decided to have a reading challenge, if an adult reads 12 books they will be entered into a raffle. Now I’m not one to let the adults have all the fun! While I do not have the budget to purchase prizes I decided on a cheaper alternative incentive…. LEGOs! We have a big box of LEGO bricks that we take out once in a while for special programs, the kids are constantly asking to play with them but with minimal staff and without an area for them to really play we unfortunately have to say no. That is when the Winter Checkout Challenge came to mind! I can’t take all of the credit for this idea, I originally saw it last year at Bryce Don’t Play but completely forgot about it until my coworker and I started brainstorming ideas. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
What We Did:
We put 3 bricks into sandwich size plastic bags and put them behind the Circulation desk. Every time a child checks out a book (it does not matter how many books) they receive a bag with the LEGO bricks. Next they come into the Children’s Department, add their bricks to our structure and get their picture taken for our Checkout Wall of Fame.
Checkout Wall of Fame
Construction paper was cut to look like LEGO bricks, this is after 3 days (we missed taking some pictures). As more children check items out the construction paper structure is growing! Kids love coming back and finding their photo on the wall.
How It Was Received:
Wonderfully! The LEGO structure is on display right at the entrance to the Children’s Department and is one of the first things the children gravitate to. (It is also right in front of the Children’s Desk so we can keep an eye on it). Quite a few children have asked what it is and if they can play with it, we explain to them that if they check out some books then they will receive 3 bricks to add to the structure and their picture will be put on the Wall of Fame. The presence of the LEGOs has greatly encouraged children to check out books, parents have also been using it as a tool. As families are leaving I’ll hear the parents remark “Are you sure you don’t want to check out any books? You can add to the LEGOs and get your picture taken.” It’s great to see that a prize free incentive is really encouraging and getting the children excited about checking out books.
What I Didn’t Expect:
I didn’t expect how often the structure would change. In my mind the children would keep adding to it and would create a tower, instead most of the children not only add their 3 bricks but also reconstruct the whole thing. I have no problem with them fiddling with the structure, the only thing I discourage is if a child is trying to take it off the shelf to play with. Something else I didn’t expect is staff members not giving children their LEGO bags. Items are not checked out in the Children’s Department, everything is done at Circulation, therefore I had to give the bags over to Circ. There have been a couple times where I have seen children check out items and not receive a bag, the worst was the time I told a child when they were done checking out their items they would get LEGOs to add but then never received them. A couple of times I have run out to Circ to try and intercept the kids before they leave.
Overall I think this is a great passive program that gets children excited about checking out items and encourages children who don’t typically take books out to do so. I know checking out books is only half the battle, getting them to read them is the other half but this is a step in the right direction.