Summer Learning, Reading, and Engagement

March 1, 2023

Our goals with a community-based summer outreach program are to: 

  • Help children, teens and adults build a habit of reading;
  • Increase outreach to systematically racially impacted neighborhoods, including the 5th, 8th, and 9th Wards;
  • Connect Evanstonians with access to and awareness of  library services in places where they gather, not just at our library buildings.

Summer reading challenges, fun activities, and special summer programs encourage readers of all ages to engage in reading all summer long. Summer at EPL is also a time to be “outside our walls” at parks and camps! For the past few summers, EPL staff have brought pop-up libraries to these summer fun places, as well as neighborhood block parties, family nights, and City of Evanston summer festivals. Last summer, EPL Librarians participated at more than 65 events, gave away over 2,500 books and 2,000 STEM projects for kids, and created library cards for anyone who needed one. 

Summer is also a time when children lose access to their school libraries, and EPL is there to keep library access available. The Library is busiest when school is out, and families still need books, activities, movies, and other resources. Ensuring robust summer programming, in and outside of the Library walls, keeps access open and connections to the Library strong. 

monthly checkouts graph

Once again, this summer, librarians, staff, and volunteers will be encouraging summer reading through read-a-thons and summer programs, as well as making multiple daily visits to different parks and places around town to meet families where they naturally gather. We’ll give away books, have hands-on STEM activities, and lead programs that highlight the Library’s work such as drum circles, yoga, and storytime. The challenge with this approach is that it takes much more staff time and coordination to, literally in many instances, be in two (or three or four) places at once. Committing to this level of outreach means committing funds for more staff, materials, and books over the summer. But this is a priority for EPL, because we know that summer reading and learning helps keep minds engaged and open, even when school’s closed and we’re at the beach or in the backyard!


 Places we hosted events in 2022: 

  • Twiggs Park 
  • Elks Park 
  • Lee Street Beach 
  • Brummel Park 
  • Mason Park
  • Fountain Square 
  • Fleetwood-Jourdain 
  • Foster Field 
  • Washington School 
  • Oakton School 
  • Erie Family Health 
  • Levy Senior Center 
  • Ingraham Park 
  • Lighthouse Beach 
  • James Park 
  • Bethel AME Church 
  • Gibbs-Morrison 
  • Temperance Brewery 
  • Arrington Lagoon  


 A few of the  events we attended in 2022: 

  • First Fridays 
  • Block parties 
  • Bethel AME Back to School Jam
  • Umbrella Fest 
  • Juneteenth parade and celebration 
  • National Night Out 
  • Jamaican Independence Day 
  • Ebony Barber Shop Free Haircut event 
  • Evanston Pride Picnic 
  • Ridgeville Parks Block Party 
  • Adventure Playground at Elks 
  • Sip n’ Paint at Temperance 
  • End of Summer bonfire- Reading Garden 
  • D65 PEP 
  • D65/ETHS/COE back-to-school event 
  • Critter Visits with Ecology Center 
  • STEAM camp at Crown 
  • DIME Dance-off 
  • Bike the Ridge  


Some of our partners in 2022: 

  • COE – My City, Your City, Our City 
  • DIME Dance 
  • Evanston Pride 
  • D65, D202 
  • EC2C 
  • Ridgeville Park District 
  • Purple Line Players 
  • William Estrada, artist 
  • Bethel AME 
  • Connections 
  • Evanston Ecology Center 
  • Erie Family Health 
  • Levy Senior Center 
  • YMCA 
  • Actors Gymnasium 
  • Oakton Community College

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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