Summer Reading Program: Tracking by Days Follow Up

An image from Ann Arbor Public Library's 1955 SRP

There has always been much debate over the best way to ask patrons to log and track their reading over the summer. I actually did an in-depth research project on it in grad school. Typically the debate is over whether to a) log books or b) minutes. This year marks the 5th anniversary of my library choosing c), none of the above to that question. Back in 2017, we started asking patrons to log days spent reading. 

An image from Ann Arbor Public Library's 1955 SRP
Summertime, and the reading’s easy! (Ann Arbor Public Library circa 1955)

I wrote about our experience of switching to days back in 2018 in this post

TL;DR: Our mission was to make the Summer Reading Program simple for staff to implement, consistent for all age groups to make it easier for families to participate, and low-pressure so readers of all levels and abilities could participate. We stepped back and thought about the main goal of the program—to help our patrons make reading a habit over the summer. Did we really care about how long participants read, or how many pages they read? Nope. And just like that, our tracking days system was born. 

Patrons and staff have all been quite happy with this version of the program. It’s so much easier for young patrons to feel successful with tracking by days. The teens in my community tend to be over-scheduled, and tracking by days helps simplify things for young people who have less control of their own schedules. I did add some bonus challenge activities for super-readers who wanted to feel more challenged, but overall we’ve kept things pretty much the same. Readers get small prizes and raffle tickets for a few grand prize gift baskets at 10, 20, 30, and 50 days of reading. We say 30 days is what it takes to finish the program, and 50 days is bonus.

The main thing that has changed is that we switched from using paper tracking to an entirely virtual tracking system (Beanstack) in 2021 as a result of the pandemic. I’ll admit, for a lot of folks, Beanstack was an adjustment, but most of our feedback has been positive and the virtual format has allowed us to do some fun bonus things, such as a City-wide Scavenger Hunt for all ages. 

If your library is interested in tracking by days, I highly recommend it! We have no regrets.

5 responses to “Summer Reading Program: Tracking by Days Follow Up”

  1. How does it translate to Beanstack? I’m new to Beanstack & would also like to track days, but if I recall it asks for book titles or minutes. I’ve been trying to figure out how to best configure a challenge for “days” but having trouble.


    • Tracking by days is do-able, but it’s definitely a little more cumbersome than we were led to believe when we were shopping for software, especially on the patron end. It’s a lot easier to do on the desktop site than the mobile app. You’ll want to reach out to your Beanstack rep or their Help Desk for setting up the particulars of your challenge. The Beanstack Facebook group was also super helpful for me. It’s been a year since I set ours up, but if I recall there is an option when creating reading badges to select “logging type.” Here’s an article from the Help Desk with screen shots:


    • It turned out so well! We did it as a code word challenge in Beanstack. Any local business that sponsored our program became a location on the hunt. We made posters for them to hang prominently in the front window with a code word related to the SRP theme. (It was Tales and Tails last year so we did short animal words like cat, dog, cow, etc.) Patrons would enter the word in Beanstack and earn a badge, and each badge earned a raffle ticket. We raffled off gift cards to the various businesses. It was a fun way for all ages to get involved!


  2. Hi Jessica, I’d love to read your research project if I can, plus anything you’ve put together on why you’ve chosen days reading over the other two options. It’s a path I’m going down myself at the moment. My email address is
    Many thanks if you’re happy to share your research!


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