Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON, N.J. -The Mercer County Library System smashed its previous numbers for its annual Summer Reading Program this year, seeing more children participate, more books read, more teen volunteers, and a wider variety of free programs than ever before.

This summer, 5,138 children registered for the program, an increase of 896 children from 2007 and the nine library branches offered 675 programs that reached a total audience of 17,473 youth and their families, well above the 610 programs and 15,942 residents reached in 2007. In addition, Mercer County children and teens, including those incarcerated in the County's Youth Detention Center, read 92,012 books this summer, a huge increase over the 80,105 books read in last year's summer reading program.

"This past summer, the library system was able to reach more young minds than at any time in our past," said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. "The Summer Reading Program promotes year round education, which will continue keep our students among the brightest and most well prepared in the state and encourage a lifelong love of reading."

Hughes also expressed gratitude to those who facilitate the Summer Reading Program-the many County library employees, part time workers, volunteers, and also the 225 teen volunteers who logged 3,893 hours of volunteer service this summer. Hughes said a program of such a large scope and scale-this year's 675 programs were held in just seven weeks-would be impossible without a strong commitment from each staff member and volunteer.

The 675 programs represent a variety of different interests, including story time and crafts, toddler musical programs, computer and book clubs, and outreach events. This year, the libraries partnered with the Youth Detention Center to bring the Summer Reading Program to juveniles in detention. Library staff visited the center weekly to distribute books and facilitated a book club where each participant read the same book and then discussed it. In all, 163 incarcerated youth participated this summer.

The libraries, which underwent sweeping computer upgrades in May, also incorporated new, tech-friendly ways to reach participants. The program held Nintendo Wii tournaments and computer classes such as PowerPoint.

The summer also featured an extensive array of special programming offered by outside vendors including: live insect and lizard exhibits; magic shows; jewelry and knitting classes; yoga and origami classes; music performances; sculpture classes for teens in partnership with Maidenhead Studios; author visits; and vehicle displays.

In general, much of this special programming is supported by the generosity of the Friends of the Library, the Library Association and the Library Committees. Last year, these groups dedicated more than $90,000 to special programming, which included children's and adult programs. Hughes said much of the Library System's resources and programs are directly attributable to these donations.

Below is a chart showing the growth of the Summer Reading Program in just the last three years:

2006

2007

2008

Registered youth

4,194

4,242

5,138

Number of programs

514

610

675

Total audience

13,378

15,942

17,473

Total books read

73,275

80,105

92,012


The Mercer County Library System had 1,152,065 patrons in 2007. The nine branches of the Library System are the East Windsor branches of Twin Rivers and Hickory Corner, the Ewing branches located on Scotch Road and in the Hollowbrook Community Center, the Hightstown Memorial Library branch, the Hopewell branch, the Lawrence branch, the Robbinsville branch, and the West Windsor branch. For more information, including hours of operation, please visit the Library's web site, www.mcl.org.