Summer Reading Program raises $15,343 for library

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Chris Robinette was the top youth reader in the 2020 Berryville Library Summer Reading Program. Chris read for 326 hours in eight weeks. The reading program raised $15,343 for the library building fund.
Submitted photo

The 2020 Berryville Library Summer Reading Program goes into the books as the most successful summer reading program yet, thanks to the generous challenge made by the Judy G. Western family to donate $1 for every hour read.

There were 386 registered participants — 183 youths and 203 adults. This is the largest number of adults ever to participate in a program at the Berryville Library.

From June 1 through July 31, the community embraced the challenge by logging in 920,575 minutes (15,343 hours) of reading which, when matched by the donation of the Western Family, raised $15,343 to help fund a new and expanded Berryville Library. The hours were logged through Beanstack, an electronic application that could be accessed through the internet on a computer or a smartphone.  

“Last year, we read just 6,826 hours, so when we set the 10,000-hour goal for this year, we knew it would be a stretch, even if we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic,” library director Julie Hall said. “But the community threw itself into the challenge and we literally blew the top off our goal!  We want to thank all our friends, near and far, who read on our behalf this summer! Raising $15,343 toward our Library Building Fund is a dream come true and shows just how much our community supports our local library and its need to expand.”  

The challenge was divided into categories by age. One hundred twenty participants under 18 years old logged 3,284 hours of reading. One hundred sixty four adult participants logged 12,059 hours of reading. 

Participants were eligible for prizes for reaching goals, with all encouraged to challenge themselves to read at least 25 hours. Chris Robinette of Berryville was the top youth reader of the year, logging 326 hours in just eight weeks. Last year was his first year participating in the Summer Reading Program, and he became hooked on reading. Robinette’s mother, Lori, said that last year Chris said he wanted to be first this year and he did it!

“I’m so proud of him,” she added. “We just love the library and especially the staff.” 

This year Robinette focused his time solely on mysteries reading the Encyclopedia Brown Series, Nancy Drew, and the Calendar mysteries during the challenge.

“I think I read every book they had!” Chris said. “Everyone at the library was so helpful in recommending the next book for me to read and they encouraged me to keep going.

“Did I mention that I had a personal goal to win first place this year?” he added with a chuckle.

In addition to the weekly prizes, participants were eligible for drawings and raffles. Each raffle was associated with a specific challenge and winners were selected randomly from all who completed activities, but the most popular prizes were gift certificates awarded by local businesses who supported the reading program.

“We couldn’t make this happen without a few nice folks!” Friends of the Berryville Library president Mary Knight said. “We truly appreciate the family of Judy G. Western for believing in Berryville and being willing to match our hours with dollars this summer. We want to extend a special thank you to the local businesses who donated prizes to keep us all reading.”

So what’s next for the Berryville Library? The library is considering more reading challenges that will utilize the Beanstack app to track participation. For individuals wanting to track their reading, Beanstack allows for continual recording of reading minutes throughout the year, whether or not a challenge is underway.

“Given the success of this summer, maybe we can set our sights on reading 1,000,000 minutes next year,” Hall said. “Wouldn’t that be awesome?” 

The library continues to offer curbside service but is also now open by appointment for people to come into the building. For more information on current library hours, services and programs, visit or call (870) 423-2323. The Berryville Library also offers active Facebook and Instagram pages.

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