Readers Shared a Love of Literature in Fairfield's Virtual Summer Reading Challenge

Readers Shared a Love of Literature in Fairfield's Virtual Summer Reading Challenge

Dimenna-Nyselius Library

This summer, staff at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library established the first Summer Reading Challenge, attracting 64 readers from the University community.

Fairfield University’s first Summer Reading Challenge kicked off this year and became a triumphant success thanks to 64 motivated students, faculty, and staff. In an effort to invigorate community members seeking intellectual connections amid the pandemic, staff at the University’s DiMenna-Nyselius Library teamed up with the Health and Wellness Committee and the University Bookstore to create a community of active readers who met virtually all summer long.

Lisa Thornell, student engagement and outreach librarian, said the program “exceeded her expectations” as readers flocked to join. Participants received extensive reading lists through the collaborative work tool, Quip, and used the platform to log books, set reading goals, and comment on others' titles. 

Organizers incorporated three book-chat Zoom sessions, entitled Lattes With Librarians, into the challenge to keep participants engaged. These relaxed conversations offered innovative, socially distanced outlets to interact over shared interests. At the final Lattes With Librarians session, the committee invited two librarians from Fairfield Public Library to share what they were reading and talk about upcoming titles on the publishing horizon. 

The Fairfield University Bookstore joined in the fun and contributed a new store display with some of the book titles the group had read throughout the summer, complete with reader recommendations for store guests.

Those who accepted the Summer Reading Challenge came from 29 departments of the University, pledged 440 books, and successfully cycled through 500 works of fiction and nonfiction over the course of three months. The success of the program was evident in a variety of ways. In particular, 94 percent of participants reported feeling that the program gave them a maximum motivation to read; 88 percent felt that the Challenge bridged them back to campus when the pandemic separated them; 88 percent met and surpassed their original reading goals; and 100 percent are hoping for this opportunity to return. 

In response to the overwhelming interest in another reading challenge, Thornell plans on doing a variation on the Challenge either over winter break or in the first few months of winter.

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Last modified: 09-11-20 2:10 PM

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