The Edgartown Public Library now offers a monthly “book box” subscription program for children 8 years of age and older. Each month, children in Edgartown with a library card can use a Google Form to register and receive gifts from the library. These include two library materials and other free items to keep such as crayons, gel pens, snacks and more provided by the Friends of the Edgartown Library. January is the “pilot month” for the program.
Edgartown Library Children’s Librarian Elyce Retmier created this program. “Obviously with COVID we have had to think outside the box and put a twist on some of the services that we have provided forever and ever,” she said.
Retmier has implemented different programs to adapt to the COVID environment, such as ‘take out windows’ to give children craft bags to take away, and deliveries as ‘librarian on the go’.
“We just kept doing take out things, trying to keep the kids engaged with the library even though they couldn’t get into the library,” Retmier said.
The “book box” program was the result of his thoughts on how to continue programming when the library had to “pump the brakes” on indoor programming.
Retmier said she chose 8 years or older as her target demographic because that is the age at which children can be alone in the library. Also, she didn’t want the program to be “too childish” to get teens to participate. The first group of five children who signed up for a subscription box were between the ages of 11 and 13.
“Teenagers are hard to attract so I’m excited,” Retmier said.
The registration form allows children and adolescents to express their interests to the librarians. Retmier said she will be able to match participants’ interests with the boxes, especially with children who are part of her after-school program. “I have a really good mental database for the kids I see,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like I’m more than just a librarian. I dive really deep into what these kids are interested in and try to connect with them on a personal level so I think they’re going to be really excited when they see the box.
Retmier believes registrations should be limited to around 15 participants, although this will depend on the interest and progress of the program. Retmier also said the summer months, which attract a lot more people, would be too busy for the program.