Delaware Libraries are Encouraging Delawareans to Read with Zoobean
Since the advent of television, access to fast entertainment has been responsible for contributing to a long-term trend of declining leisure reading rates worldwide that has only been exacerbated by technologies such as the internet, smartphones, and social media. The American Time Use Study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that leisure reading among Americans hit an all-time low in 2019. While such technologies are here to stay and continue providing invaluable services in regard to information access and social connectedness, are we ready to give up on reading altogether?
Public libraries in Delaware have decided to say “no!” to these downward trends by partnering with Zoobean to leverage this same information technology toward increasing reading goals across the state with their service Beanstack. Launched with the help of a successful appearance on ABC’s business reality show Shark Tank, Zoobean has grown to offer several successful tools that help educators, librarians, families, and teams read more by creating, promoting, participating in, and gaining insights from reading challenges.
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By adding Beanstack to their already expansive repertoire of services, Delaware Libraries are able to bring the drive back to readers by scheduling statewide reading challenges such as the Summer Library Reading Program for children, teens as well as adults. These challenges allow readers to track their progress and reading streaks, share their experiences with other readers by publishing their own reviews and reading the impressions of their peers, and offering badges which help to gamify the reading experience and offer a sense of incentive and progress that can be difficult to generate on one’s own (who has the time and motivation to keep up with a personal progress journal when there’s so much reading to be done?)
Libraries have been struggling for years to find the perfect online solutions to encourage reading and offer easy access to their communities, and the landscape of competing services can often be confusing, fraught with untenable or hidden fees that don’t fit into personal budgets, or simply don’t offer the level of support and reach with audiences that libraries require. With Beanstack, Zoobean offers the web and mobile app experience that leads to the most registrations, active readers, and completions. A public library only has so many staff to take care of things, which is why Zoobean’s experienced and open support service has helped make them the right choice for libraries across the world, as in Delaware’s case.
Jordan Bookey, co-founder of Zoobean, had the following to say about working with Delaware Libraries: “We have been working with Delaware Libraries for many years, almost since the inception of our company. Delaware was our first statewide partnership, so they have seen the service grow and change over the years. Our co-founder and other team members have led several workshops with Delaware Libraries over the years!” The relationship between Zoobean and Delaware Libraries has been mutually beneficial, as she continues, “Delaware introduced our team to 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, and I remember helping to set up that reading challenge in Beanstack for the first time with their libraries. When we began working together, our technology was nowhere near what it is today, but Delaware Libraries gave us an opportunity to grow with them over the years. I am sure that we owe many product enhancements to the suggestions of Delaware librarians!”
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Beanstack has also served as a catalyst to further inter-library collaboration within the Delaware Library Consortium, as Jordan notes, “Over the years, we have observed Delaware Libraries partner more significantly with one another in their use of Beanstack. For example, most recently the Sussex County libraries joined together to create a joint site and experience for their libraries. They offer a joint summer reading challenge, and have also gone beyond just summer. Together, they provide reading challenges throughout the year to their communities. They established a suite of reading challenges for a child’s reading life, ranging from 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten to 100 Books Before College.”
Delaware Libraries have been able to leverage their strengths as a library community to make the most of Beanstack, leaving an impression on Jordan as she recalls, “Our team loves how Delaware Libraries work so closely together. When one library has a lead who is very knowledgeable about Beanstack, that person offers herself as a resource to other librarians. We have seen this in our in-person workshops and also in a virtual environment.” This interconnectedness is an important factor in the success of a library system, as the volume of written works and digital information increases at a rate beyond what any one location can keep up with in any industry. Beanstack works within the library network to provide agile and responsive solutions that are easily shared between different staff to optimize their time and budget.
It is clear to see the shared passion for reading held by Delaware librarians and the team at Zoobean. Their service enabled this passion to be shared more readily and in a more rewarding manner to library patrons across the state as they participate in reading challenges, marking the books they read and sharing reviews and recommendations with their peers all while leveling up their profiles with completed challenges and badges earned. With the help of Zoobean’s easy-to-use and cost-effective services to increase statewide readership, Delaware Libraries truly power up themselves and their communities.