Monticello library takes Summer Reading online

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     With the Monticello Public Library phasing in its re-opening to the public since closing its doors on March 17, there’s a new format to the ever-popular Summer Reading Program (SRP).

     “While the library has been closed to the public, staff has been attending many online meetings and classes, specific to Summer Reading and how all libraries were going to have to drastically change their plans,” noted Library director Michelle Turnis.

     Many libraries, like Monticello, are holding off on hosting in-person group programs. That meant these libraries had to find creative ways to still keep their patrons of all ages engaged in Summer Reading.

     “We cancelled all in-person programs for this summer,” said Turnis. “At this time, we are not sure when people will be back in the library and how long social distancing guidelines will be in place.”

     Turnis said there are several online platforms that are used, including READsquared, which is the Monticello’s library’s top pick.

     “Ease of use and price were the deciding factors,” Turnis said.

     This free app allows users to track their reading time and take part in “missions.”

     “We basically took the BINGO log that we already created for this year and transferred it to the online program,” explained Turnis. “For the last five-plus years, our Summer Reading Program has been a mix of reading and other activities.”

     To take part in the SRP, visit, download the app on your smartphone or tablet, or request a paper log by contacting the library. By using the online version, you can log your reading time, submit book reviews, complete reading missions, or play games.

     This year’s theme for Summer Reading is “Imagine Your Story.” There are four registered levels:

     • Early Lit for ages 0 to 6

     • Children for ages 6 to 12

     • Teens for ages 12 to 18

     • Adults for ages 18 and older

     “The programs are very similar in they track reading and have activities,” said Turnis. “The Early Lit program awards points based on the number of books read. The Children’s program is a combination of books read and minutes read, while Teens and Adults is minutes read.”

     In addition to READsquared, the library will be offering a variety of other online programs including story time, teen game night, teen book/craft night, Boast & Toast book discussions, trivia nights, and a middle school book discussion group.

     There will also be take and make activity bags available every week for children and teens. Beginning Monday, June 8, you can pick up a bag at the library on Mondays and Thursdays, one bag per child per week.

     “We are also partnering with Jones County Iowa State Extension to be a pick-up spot for their activity bags,” noted Turnis. “You must register with Extension to receive their bags, which will be available on Thursdays.”

     SRP began June 1 and runs through Aug. 1. Participants can earn points for reading and completing various activities and missions. Prizes are awarded when you earn 200, 500, 700 and 1,000 points. Prizes include books, games, toys, and gift certificates to local businesses.

     “This year, it may be even more important to offer a Summer Reading Program to really encourage continued reading,” Turnis said. “With school closed as well, many children may not have been reading as much as they would if they had been at school.”

     For more details or if you have questions, call the library at 319-465-3354 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

     The Monticello library thanks the Friends of the Library and everyone who donated to the FOL for providing funding for READsquared and prizes.


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