Looking for something to keep your brain entertained for the remainder of the hot, humid summer? The Edwardsville Public Library may have the solution.
For the next few weeks, adults are encouraged to sign up for the Summer Reading Program, with a surprising incentive among staffers.
“If we reach 750 sign-ups, I agreed to get a tattoo of a unicorn,” said Jacob Del Rio, department head of Research and Adult Services.
In its fourth summer, the Adult Summer Reading Program — following a theme of Read for the Win in honor of the 2016 Summer Olympics — was born from the long-running Children’s Summer Reading Program, in which Del Rio and staff take great pride.
“We want to prevent the ‘summer slide’ — the three months when kids aren’t in school and run the risk of reverting in their reading comprehension and starting off at a disadvantage in the school year,” Del Rio said.
The adult program also finds a lineage in Warm Up with a Good Book, and operates in the same basic fashion.
“Participants keep a log of books that they’ve read, and we incentivize reading with prizes provided and furnished by the volunteer-based group Edwardsville Library Friends,” Del Rio said. “Our grand prizes often include a Kindle Fire and $100 gift cards, which our readers really enjoy.
“We really want to get the whole family reading during the summer. There are always lists of good beach reads, and plenty of audiobooks and graphic novels to explore as well. Participants get extra credit if they attend our book discussion group meetings, but the only real requirement for the Adult Summer Reading Program is that the chosen book isn’t a children’s book.”
The library remains just as active in the fall, winter and spring.
“One of our big fall programs is a photo contest open to local print and digital photographers, by which each contestant brings three of their best works to be judged by both their peers and by patrons,” Del Rio said. “That program is in its 13th year.”
The library also participates in a local author book festival and Coloring for Grown-ups, as hosted by reference librarian Devin Gordon.
The library hosts movie nights and provides a number of digital services, such as the 3M Cloud and Hoopla.
“We’re willing to evolve with the demands of the people and to break away from the traditional image that many people have when they think of a library,” Del Rio said. “We know that we’re competing for people’s time, and we’d like to fit somewhere in the busy schedules of working adults and parents.”
With its building constructed in 1906 by Scottish steel magnate Andrew Carnegie and subject to major renovations and additions over the next century, the library traces its history to the 19th century. According to the library’s website, the first library in Edwardsville was chartered in 1823, “consisting of 121 items and single librarian, Mr. John H. Randle.” After relocating multiple times over the next 50 years, the library was permanently rechartered in 1879, and most prolifically cultivated by head librarian Sarah Coventry from 1891 to 1937.
As random as it might sound, the prospective unicorn tattoo has its own history.
“I really wanted to push to surpass our record of 410 regular adults last summer, and the tattoo started as something of a joke among the staff,” Del Rio said. “I actually remember my dad getting a unicorn tattoo — more dark fantasy than ‘cutesy’ — when I was a kid, and I honestly wouldn’t mind getting a matching tattoo if we reach that threshold of 750.”
With more than 600 sign-ups since June 1, the ink might be closer than one thinks.
The library, 112 S. Kansas St. in Edwardsville, is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For information, visit edwardsvillelibrary.org.