At my library this also means it is time for one of my favorite passive programs: our annual Back to School Backpack Raffle.
Here's the way it works: Kids can submit an entry each time they visit the library. Our entry form includes name, grade, library card number and phone number. Name and phone number are necessary for obvious reasons, and grade is needed to choose winners from each grade level. Library card number is necessary so that we can make sure the backpacks go to kids from our service area. Forms are submitted into a container at our circulation desk.
We draw eight winners: 2 from lower elementary, 2 from upper elementary, 2 from middle school, and 2 from high school. Each winner receives a backpack and school supplies.
The school supplies are all purchased during the big school supply sales that start about mid-July. Backpacks tend to be purchased on clearance at the very end of the school shopping season. We are usually able to get them for less than $10 a piece. Last year, I think the best deal I got was at a local store going out of business. I was able to get backpacks there for about $3 a piece. We try to stock up on the backpacks in the fall and save them for the next summer.
To make life easier we presort the backpacks and supplies by grade level and gender. For instance, we have a girl's backpack and supplies for K-2nd and a boy's backpack and supplies for K-2nd. The elementary backpacks are displayed in my children's area, while the middle school and high school are in a display case near our circulation desk.
The drawing is always done the week before Labor Day so the winners have time to pick up their backpacks.
What I like about this program is that it encourages library use while providing a valuable service to the kids in our community. It is also very easy and inexpensive.
How do you celebrate back to school at your library?