Fitchburg Library

Ava Kunkel-Strell places gemstones on the wings of a paper butterfly during the library’s Valentine’s Day craft workshop on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. The Fitchburg Public Library started its online summer reading program on Monday, June 1.

The Fitchburg Public Library faced unusual circumstances this summer regarding its summer reading program.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, youth services manager Tim Powers had to look for virtual alternatives and used one that’s been popular in the South Central Library System.

The app, Beanstack, allows readers to track their minutes read online and is a convenient way for readers to stay on task and motivated. As with other summer reading programs, kids could earn more prizes by reading more.

“It was different, but still pretty cool to see the kids stack up minutes,” Powers said.

This year, 700 people of all ages signed up, and Powers says that’s due to the way his staff promoted it.

“We couldn’t promote in person as we have previously,” he said. “So what we did was go ahead and promote it in the paper, on our website and Facebook page. It turned out better than we thought.”

Powers admitted the numbers were down from years past, but he was happy with the overall participation.

“We look at the numbers and think, wow we reached out to a lot of people,” Powers said. “There were a lot of people that signed up for the program considering the circumstances.”

Powers is planning to do a fall reading program, as well, again using the Beanstack app. Powers said it will run from September to November.

The building was closed for the summer so they really were missing the interaction they usually get on a daily basis. The kids still did find a way to show their appreciation to the staff.

“Just the other day, somebody called in to collect their prizes and kids all took turns saying they’re thank you’s and we miss you,” he said. Powers was grateful for that.