BookPoints: 2023, 2024, and Beyond!

Hi BookPoints libraries!

So, the big news up front: our team has decided that we will discontinue the current BookPoints software after the 2023 summer reading season next autumn.  There are a few important reasons for this:

  • As open source software, BookPoints relies on other pieces of software shared on the Internet.  Some of that other software will expire at the end of 2023, which means any BookPoints sites still running in 2024 would no longer be trustworthy and secure.
  • BookPoints was originally funded by generous grants from numerous national partners.  The funding landscape for a project like BookPoints these days is radically different than in 2015 and we're not optimistic that we'll secure adequate grant funding in time.
  • But most importantly, our research has led us toward a different approach for summer reading, and it's an approach that we're going to continue exploring.  And we'd love for you to come along with us!

Specifically, our experience working with libraries and families over the past several years has convinced us to explore a hybrid approach to summer reading.  We've found that online reading programs are greatly enjoyed by their fans, but they are merely tolerated - at best - by other library patrons.  It's a real "you either love it or you hate it" situation.  And many of our most enthusiastic BookPoints libraries still run parallel paper log programs for readers that prefer them.

Librarians are often too busy to effectively plan and implement interactive summer websites while still focusing on in-library programming and activities.  In addition, focus on these online reading apps takes away focus from these in-library programs.  Parents and older readers often dread the tedium of repeatedly entering reading data, turning passionate readers into analysts of pages and minutes.  And in most communities, significant numbers of families still don't have the required access to smartphones, computers, and/or home broadband that these apps often require.  

But summer reading programs ARE important, both for libraries and especially for young readers facing "summer slide" (or "summer setback") once schools let out.  And libraries need an affordable, effective, and easy way to track summer reading data, even if -- or especially if -- that data is on hundreds of paper logs.  So we've come up with a new approach, tentatively called SummerScanner, that we'll be piloting in 2023 alongside the traditional BookPoints app.

Here's how it works:

  • Families and adults will sign up online, either at home or at the library, entering any data such as local school, grade, age, etc., that librarians wish to track.
  • Each reader will receive a traditional paper log, BUT with one key difference: the logs have a small unique QR code embedded in the corner, tied to that specific reader's registration information. (Logs can be printed at home or at the library.)
  • At the end of the programping, readers can hand in their logs electronically by sending/uploading a pic of the completed log.  Of course, they can also turn in the logs in person at the library (where they can be scanned into our software by a staff person).
  • Our software matches up the completed logs with the original registration info to automatically generate reports of readers based on branch, age, grade, school, and any other information.  
  • We'll still have a prize inventory tracker for libraries that wish to use the app to prevent "double-dipping" of prizes.
  • In addition, we can automatically generate certificates of completion to be printed or emailed to families.

We feel this approach is the best way to get effective data about summer reading participation without forcing parents to tediously log reading every day on an app for each child.

What do you think?  Is this a model that you're interested in trying in 2023 instead of traditional BookPoints?  As always, we're eager to hear your feedback!

For libraries that absolutely must have some sort of online interactive summer reading program in 2024, but refuse to use Beanstack or our other competitors -- we hear you and appreciate you!  If your library fits this description, let's talk!  We're still investigating the possibility of offering some sort of BookPoints Lite in 2024 if there is significant demand and we can figure out the funding issues.  Contact us and we can start a conversation about which features you think are the most critical to your readers and your staff.

In closing, let me thank you all again on behalf of the BookPoints team.  Next year will be our eighth year of operation, and we've served dozens of libraries and hundreds of thousands of readers in that time.  I can't imagine a more fulfilling project to have worked on, and that's thanks to our awesome librarians like you!  We're excited to take the next steps and we hope you come along!

Thanks again,
on behalf of Galecia's BookPoints Team