5 Tips and Tricks: Maximize Beanstack for Your Summer Reading Challenge

Summer’s around the corner—the season when reading challenges take center stage at libraries big and small. Beanstack can help you take yours to the next level by improving participation and engagement. In this blog, we’ll provide five ways to kick off and elevate your summer reading challenge, from setting up a test family account to sending your staff to BeanstackEDU. 


1. Get to know your resources

We get it: no one has time to read the user manual. Thankfully, we’ve got a suite of easy-to-use resources, like our Beanstack help desk, to get you started. More ways to get up-to-speed include:

  • Revise your “role report.” This report on the admin dashboard helps guarantee that your team members have necessary access to your Beanstack site. 
  • Check weekly client updates and monthly roll-up emails. These emails highlight key features, new products, and additional training to assist with your summer reading program.
  • Join our Facebook user group. With more than 3,000 members, this group is a great way to connect with other Beanstack users to share ideas and learn new tricks.
  • Review Beanstack’s 2021 Summer Reading Report. Gather key takeaways to guide your 2022 summer reading challenge kickoff. 
  • Download and use the mobile app. Learning to use the app yourself will help you provide the best experience for your patrons. 

building challenge

2. Prepare for building your challenge

You’ve learned the ins and outs of Beanstack, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. What comes next? We recommend taking time to plan and prepare your summer reading challenges using the three steps below: 

  • First, inform your team. To create a connected and accessible experience for your patrons, everyone from every department—from circulation to marketing to youth services and beyond—must be on the same page for summer reading. 
  • Next, identify the goals of your summer challenge. Reading in Beanstack can be logged by minutes, books, or days—consider what works best for your library. Take a look at previous reading totals and averages to gain insights. 
  • Finally, keep it simple. If a challenge from last year worked, consider doing it again while incorporating new artwork, events, or programming. Check out our challenge templates, pre-planning worksheets, and the Beanstack Sponsored Summer Reading Challenge launch kit for more help getting started.


build and test

3. Build and test (and test again!)  

Now that you’ve planned and prepped, it’s time to start building—and you don’t have to go it alone. Beanstack Basics videos are designed to assist you with tutorials, demos, and short articles. You can also attend live webinars with the Beanstack team to get additional information. 


Testing out your reading challenges as you build them helps you troubleshoot potential problems, and there are many easy ways to do so. For instance, the client-success simulator helps resolve issues as they arise, highlighting issues that need to be fixed with a red, yellow, or green indicator. We recommend setting up a test family account with volunteer access; give this test account a name like “Summer 2022 Family,” so it’s easy to delete once you’re finished experimenting. As a final check, you can also request that the client-services team review your challenges to ensure you’re good to go.




4. Prepare and train your staff

The “secret sauce” to a successful summer reading program is your team, and the more staff buy-in you have, the more likely it is that you’ll meet your goals. We recommend several best practices for training your team:

  • Send your staff to BeanstackEDU with Library Staff Essentials and Library Patron Essentials: webinars designed to strengthen knowledge of available tools and best practices.  
  • Customize the editable quick-start training guide to create a cheat sheet for staff.
  • Host a virtual or in-person training for staff.
  • Create staff-specific reading challenges. 

If your team is excited about Beanstack and can easily explain to families how to register and participate, your summer reading program can reach more patrons.




5. Promote your site and challenges

Beanstack’s co-founder, Felix Lloyd, has a saying: “Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come.” To achieve your participation goals, you must also promote your summer reading challenge with all the available tools at your disposal. Spread the word, and the engagement and fun they experience during the reading challenge will keep them coming back for more. 


To learn more about how your library can use Beanstack to host a reading challenge throughout the year, visit beanstack.com/libraries.


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