The Summer Adventure Guide, formerly known as Summer Reading Game SRG/Summer Reading Program SRP, is a long tradition in public libraries dating back to the 1890s. Library services at that time were improving access and what followed were activities and programs. The original goal behind the reading program was to bring new users to the library, a dash of teaching, and present children with good books to read while school was out.
The summer program had recently been re-imagined by the Alameda County Library in 2020. The objective was to be more inclusive while finding uncommon ways to engage users with a mix of traditional programs and something that gets people to do activities outside their normal day-to-day life.
One thing we quickly learned is that the program is rooted in younger age groups. This was especially challenging since our audience has been doing it for generations and we wanted to engage the parents and grandparents as well. We needed to create a design that would extend the spectrum from young to old and neighborhoods, regardless of capabilities, and yet still enable people to participate in the program through hands-on learning for all abilities.
It starts with the question of how to find the "wonder in nature" in the urban environment filled with concrete. What could PxI bring to the creative table to design something to feel welcome participating for all ages and abilities outside the classic reading log?"
We had some thoughts about the inclusive design initially and how to make it appeal to all ages. We started to look into more abstract design approaches. That way we didn't heavily focus on one element that would tilt the design or audience in one direction. We determined the use of mixed media as an answer that would give us the creative freedom that would inspire extended applications. We engaged lots of interactivity throughout the booklet including "Track your progress" where everyone can participate in your own way.
We pondered how the library team would take our completely different design approach. To our surprise, everyone relished it. It changed the project from just creating a booklet with some activities to how we could encourage people to participate at each library location. The game creators and marketing team brought us into more meetings asking if we could "try this or try that". We opened a new door for everyone on the team to have creativity as well. It was a great experience for us to have so much positive collaboration. We visualized their ideas and brought them to life.
Visit the Alameda County Library website to see all the summer adventures participation.