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Reading program draws 4,000 participants

Almost half read from a book genre they weren't used to reading

COURTESY OF WCCLS - Lisa Tattersall and Bryce Kozla, staff members at Washington County Cooperative Library Services, show off some of the prizes the adult reading program gave away at the end of the summer.Librarians throughout Washington County recently found out that a countywide adult summer reading program not only inspired its participants to read more, but also to pick up books to read outside the genres they were used to.

When all was said and done, more than 4,000 adults completed Washington County Cooperative Library Service’s COURTESY OF WCCLS - A Cedar Mill Library staffer mans a booth to sign residents up for the adult summer reading program at the Cedar Mill Famers Market. program, which ran from June 1 through Aug. 31.

While the program didn’t try to pit readers against each other to see how many books they could read, it produced something unexpected — almost 2,000 book reviews written by participants in order to give fellow readers an idea of what books they enjoyed.

“That was a new thing and that’s what we were really excited about,” said Lisa Tattersall, program supervisor for adult services.

Some of the reviews have already been posted online and Tattersall said she is hoping to have all 1,918 reviews posted within the month.

As far as statistics are concerned, a survey returned by 737 adult summer reading participants showed that 46.5 percent were motivated to read more as a result of signing up for the program. At the same time, 41 percent said they tried a new genre or author for the first time. Tattersall said she was “pleasantly surprised with the results” for a program that has gained in popularity over the years.COURTESY OF WCCLS - A Cedar Mill Library staffer mans a booth to sign residents up for the adult summer reading program at the Cedar Mill Famers Market.

“It started in 2010, but we’ve really ramped it up and developed it in the last several years,” she said.

Meanwhile, the top three summer reading picks selected by readers included: “All the Light We cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, “The Martian” by Andy Weir, and “Wild” by Portland’s own Cheryl Strayed.

At the same time, library staff members throughout the county sent out six emails making their own recommendations with reviews of their top picks that included: “A Darkling Sea” by James L. Cambias (reviewed by Sarah Jesudason from the Tualatin Public Library), “Shadowshaper” by Daniel Jose Older (reviewed by Marly Osma de Forest from the West Slope Library), “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George (reviewed by Ann-Marie Anderson from the Tigard Library), and “Leaving Berlin” by Joseph Kanon (reviewed by Eva Calcagno, director of Washington County Cooperative Library Services).

“Our goal when we set up the program was to help patrons expand their reading horizons,” she said, pointing out that the goal meant not only reading books but other media such as newspapers and trade papers, as well as encouraging parents to read to their children.

Meanwhile, the summer program added a few new bells and whistles, including the purchase of several wi-fi accesses in order to get new members to sign up at community activities such as Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District’s Party in the Park, the Forest Grove Farmer’s Market, Tualatin Art Splash, Celebrate Hillsboro, the Hillsboro Library Pub Trivia Night at Vertigo Brewing, and Sherwood’s Altered Arts Fair, Cruisin’ Sherwood and Robin Hood Festival.

“We had a little more emphasis in getting out in the community ... and that was a lot of fun,” said Tattersall.

And even the older folks received a chance to win prizes with drawings for tote bags and water bottles held every other week during the program.

Tattersall said when librarians throughout the county got together to plan this year’s summer reading program for adults, their goal was to help library patrons expand their reading horizons, as well as sharing the wonder of libraries and encouraging them to read with more people.

“We had a great time at community events all over the county this summer, and we were amazed at the amount of book reviews Washington County readers shared with us,” said Tattersall. “It was fun to share our book recommendations with summer reading participants by email, which were enthusiastically received. We’re looking forward to sharing more book love next summer.”