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Summer Reading App

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How to best use this wiki

This Wiki will be more useful if it is treated as a reductive organizational tool. If you have a major brain dump, long ranting opinion, disagreement, or inspiration please send it to the DPLA Audience & Participation email list. Sign up for it here [1]

The Big Question

How would summer reading programs at local public libraries benefit from a DPLA summer reading application, and how would the DPLA support such a thing?

The summer reading program is probably the most ubiquitous public library program in this country. Whether you visit a library in a small town in Texas or one of Chicago’s 79 library branches, you will always find that from June to August the staff are busy putting recreational reading in the hands and heads of local children. As more childrens’ imaginations are inspired and influenced by what they read online and in digital formats, the summer reading program needs to be retooled to bridge the gap between digital and print reading experiences.

A free, customizable, DPLA summer reading application that provides an immersive, social, and personal reading experience would be tremendously useful to libraries and their patrons in communities everywhere. On this wiki, we will examine 1) the challenges libraries face effectively delivering this program now 2) ways in which a web-scaled summer reading platform might alleviate local workload without sacrificing local value. 3) Finally, with time and due process, we’ll aim to spell out in great detail what a software solution might look like.


This is an emerging architecture for a summer reading application. Different contexts would require or enable different modules. This is not an exhaustive list of contexts.



Administrative modules

    Statistics and reporting
    Item selection / list building
    User, group, and list management
    Form scanner

Patron modules

    Content Reader / viewer
    Commenting / annotation
    Individual Profile / privacy settings
    Location management
    Social components
         Group builder
         Rewards / reputation system
    Recommendation engine
    Data import, Goodreads, LibraryThing(maybe?)


    Individual readstream
    Group readstream
    Location readstream

Description of the Problem

edit this and talk about the limitations of summer reading as it is right now.

1) Problem with summer reading material in eBook format: A technological problem is that many summer reading materials will be under copyright, and so there will be limited options for each item being available. For a summer reading list, books will come from different sources and interact differently with the app - can't be ingested into the app or formatted to all work and look the same.

2) Problem with summer reading material in the library's print collection: All students check the material out at the same time, so a list of call numbers in not enough. There also needs to be an indication of what is on the shelf right now, and for checked out material when it is due back and whether there is already a hold on it.

3) Summer reading lists are made by schools, not by libraries, and must be communicated to libraries. Ways to facilitate schools/teachers/etc in passing reading lists to libraries could help libraries to be ready for the students.

4) Libraries may have to report to a state agency on completion rates for summer reading. What is a way to assist in collecting this info? Is there a way to get kids to report to the library on reading, and also feel like reporting is a game so it encourages both reporting and reading?

5) books read may not be books owned in library collection if synced with our ILS. 6) some programs invite reading other than just books. 7) events are tied to the SRP not just reading lists so calendar integration is important. 8) libraries use different themes, but many use the national collaborative theme. 9) school summe reading is homework, public libraries summer reading is fun.

Description of a Solution

These are starter thoughts, not necessarily a final plan.

With the encouragement of reading in mind, particularly the summer variety, the DPLA will provide cross-platform software solutions--not just for libraries but also for young people, their parents, teachers, and others. The software should address all of the four requirements in the preceding section and, in fact, go beyond them.

Especially we should foster family literacy and encourage mothers and fathers to read, too, as good role models. If possible, parents should join librarians and teachers in providing guidance on reading techniques for daughters and sons--if desired, in line with the scaffolding theories and others of Associate Prof. James Kim of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Self-initiated recreational reading should also be fostered. We believe there is a place for different approaches, with local people able to choose one or the other or mix them after acquainting themselves with the facts.

Beyond offering customized reading recommendations, the software should include a built-in reader with social features useful not just online but also for directing people to onsite activities at libraries and helping like-minded patrons connect with each other virtually and in person.

The actual reader should work even when a patron is out of WiFi range, and it should be aesthetically pleasing and be Kindle-simple unless users call up advanced features. It should offer reflowable text (with the ePub, HTML and ASCII formats included at the very least, as well as both reflowable and nonreflowable PDF and DjVu and nonDRMed Kindle formats if possible); different sizes and styles of fonts; all-text bolding; adjustable margins and line spacing and color combinations; easily shared annotations; other social features; bookmarking; within-book and device-library and external-library searching and browsing; a Kindle-style dictionary; capabilities for reading down your fines on paper books, if individual libraries allowed this; and other wrinkles for end users. Some of these features might be toggled in rather than visible immediately, so as to reduce clutter for novices. KISS unless users want otherwise.

Content will consist mostly of books, but also of other texts and maybe even multimedia and/or pointers to it for readers with appropriate devices. Public domain and CC and maybe even content originated via a DPLA First Novel Contest (strong in YA- and other K-12-related categories) would be among the possibilities, as would local content of literary or historical importance.

Perhaps the app would have HathiTrust hooks to start out with. Simply as matter of practicality and patron service, the app might also allow access to legacy-DRMed books (and it could also work with books with expiration enforced by HTML5-based caching--one way to wean the library world off proprietary "protection"). A "must" is that the application also point to public and school libraries' paper holdings, indicate their availability or nonavailability, and allow them to be reserved conveniently. In addition, the app could include ways to create user content beyond annotations--such as book reports.

At the library end, a related app could let librarians keep up with patron-originated activities, including the spontaneous formation of online and in-person book clubs by readers with similar interests. The app could also help librarians coordinate, interface, and share with other institutions such as schools and other government organizations (one way to facilitate multiple uses of e-book-friendly tablets and cost-justify them). Organizations of all kinds should be able to use the software to indicate their needs, e.g., content meeting curriculum requirements at local or state levels. The app should also include data collection features to document usage for budgetary and legal purposes and otherwise reduce the administrative burdens of librarians and other professionals. At the same time, it should respect patron privacy in line with guidelines from the American Library Assocation.

Further preliminary thoughts on users and features and the need for the app, as well as on essential access questions in the areas of hardware and connectivity, are here. It is hoped that the development process can be accelerated through formal or informal cooperation with the International Digital Publishing Forum and its Readium project, which has created a developer-oriented reference reader for ePub 3. The IDPF is the home of ePub, a nonproprietary format based on open Web standards.

Links to existing summer reading resources / software / approaches

Add your own experiences here. What does your library use?

Evanced Summer Reader [2]

NYC tri-li Summer Reading [3]

Blog post about the about the NYC site from 2010 [4]

Illinois Library Association (used at US Military Mases) [5]

Blog post about the Ann Arbor District Library Summer Game 2011 [6]

Lists on [7]

Engaged Readers - an app which connects library resources with social networking [8]