Libraries in Summer
Books from the municipal swimming pool

Town library of Biberach in the municipal swimming pool
Town library of Biberach in the municipal swimming pool | Photo (detail): ©

Summer time, holiday season, time for reading. The good weather, however, lures few people into libraries. So some libraries have come up with special offers for readers in summer.

In summer, go where the people are – the town library of Biberach in Baden-Württemberg had this idea eight years ago. And so in the 2014 summer holidays its staff will be building a stand at the municipal swimming pool for the eighth time. There, on the balmy days from 28 July to 5 September, bathers can borrow reading material between one and five o’clock in the afternoon. About 300 media will be presented on ale-benches and in boxes: children’s books, magazines, comics and games. Nearby, sun loungers will be set up and blankets spread on which children can sit and browse in books and magazines. “They are the main users of the swimming pool library”, says Deputy Library Director Anne Grauel. “Comics and games are very popular with them; adults favour mainly magazines and picture books for children.”

Book with deposit

If you want to borrow something and lack a library card, you make a deposit. “Most people leave a flip-flop or a T-shirt”, says Grauel. Without a library card, you can use a medium only for the length of an afternoon anyway. In recent years, says Grauel, borrowing has steadily increased. “Last summer we had 500 loans in 17 days”, she reports. “Even if some people don’t take advantage of our offer, it’s good to have a presence at an unusual place.”

Camping and Reading

Beach holidaymakers and campers of course have much more time than bathers for reading. At the Schillig campsite on the coast of the North Sea, guests have been able to borrow reading material since 1978. The campground library is run by the Protestant Church, which thus occupies a pioneering position in Germany. The campsite is one of the largest in Germany and very popular with families in the holiday season. The library is open daily from the beginning of May to September and is located in two rooms of a communal washhouse.

Holidaymakers will find there some 3,500 media, including novels, audiobooks and many games. Holdings are always up-to-date, says Margarethe Schöbel, Library Officer of the Lutheran Church in Oldenburg: “Every spring we decide which new releases of the past year we’ll buy”. Entertainment literature, but also more demanding books. The library is financed by the High Consistory, and the staff works in shifts of one or two weeks and live at the campsite. They organize game nights and picture book cinema, where pictures from children’s books are projected on the wall and the texts recited.

Here again it is children and young people who are the main users of our services, says Schöbel. “They especially like reading fantasy stories”, she says. Wirth adults, detective stories are the most popular. “Users can borrow the media for fourteen days. But most are returned after a few days. During the holidays, you have a lot of time”, says Schöbel, and adds proudly: “In one summer we loaned out our entire holdings about five times over”.

More people read during the holidays

The most common summer actions on the part of libraries are summer reading clubs for children and young people. They exist in almost all federal states. In Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania there has been a Holiday Reading Club (Ferienleseclub / FLC) every summer since 2008. It was developed by the Schleswig-Holstein Central Library and the Nordmetall Foundation. This year 51 libraries are participating in the club. The idea is simple: children, starting with fifth grade, and young people borrow books during the holidays and then talk about them with a member of the library staff. Those who have read seven or more books receive a certificate in gold; three to six books, one in silver; and one or two, one in bronze. Some 5,000 children and young people signed up in the summer of 2013. Three thousand and two-hundred of them took home a certificate. The FLC books, from which the children can choose their reading, are new acquisitions. The money comes from local sponsors. Each library makes its own selections. At the end of the holidays, the books are incorporated into the library’s holdings.

Libraries find their own sponsors

In the first years the Nordmetall Foundation, which develops, initiates and promotes projects in northern Germany in education, science, research, culture and society, paid for the acquisitions of all new books. At the same time, library staff received training in fund raising, learning how they could themselves find sponsors. “And that is what they now do”, says Lisa Heyse of the Schleswig-Holstein Central Library, and gives an example: “In Bordesholm this year the local savings bank donated the money for 450 new books”. For five years now, Heyse has been a volunteer helper in the small community’s FLC and talks with children about the books they read: what did they find interesting? What was exciting” “Which character did they like best?” “It’s extraordinary the details the children notice”, she says. Heyse thinks the exchange of ideas about books is important: “It makes the experience of reading more intense. And the conversations show the children that it can be interesting to talk about books”.