Quality Principles

Summer @ Your Library in California is a time of celebration, community-building, playing, learning, and reading.

California’s quality principles and indicators have been developed to showcase summer programming in California’s public libraries and to help library staff demonstrate and maintain the value and impact of their programs.

We invite libraries to use the Summer @ Your Library quality principles and indicators to:

  • set summer reading goals and plan summer reading activities;
  • communicate desired goals and program impact to stakeholders; and
  • demonstrate strategies for developing and maintaining quality programs.

Summer @ Your Library in California is important for children, teens, adults, and the communities we live in. The quality principles and indicators will help you let everyone know about the value of the work you are doing.

A Guide to Using the Summer @ Your Library Quality Principles and Indicators is available as a resource to help librarians implement the Quality Principles and Indicator to develop and maintain quality summer programs, evaluate summer programming, and identify areas for improvement.

To help library staff gather input from colleagues in their library jurisdiction on the Summer @ Your Library Quality Principles and Indicators, project staff has created an Assessment Chart. The assessment worksheet can be used to identify areas where your program is strong and areas that might benefit from improvement.

Quality Principles and Indicators

1. Summer @ Your Library builds strong communities

Quality indicators:

1a. The program offers opportunities for community members to get involved in activities that benefit the community.

1b. Staff engages community partners to enrich program offerings and increase the visibility, credibility, and reach of the library’s efforts.

1c. Staff offers elements of the program in locations beyond the walls of the library in order to reach as many people as possible.

1d. All staff contribute to the program.

2. Summer @ Your Library provides opportunities for learning

Quality indicators:

2a. The program includes a variety of activities that engage people who have different learning styles and interests.

2b. Activities are designed with specific learning objectives in mind.

2c. The program offers learning opportunities that are fun, inspirational, and informational.

2d. The program encourages self-directed learning, discovery, and creativity.

3. Summer @ Your Library celebrates reading and literacy

Quality indicators:

3a. The library advocates that all reading is good reading.

3b. The library enables people to set and meet individual reading and literacy goals.

3c. The library connects people with a rich and diverse collection of reading materials in a variety of formats.

3d. The library offers activities that extend the reading experience.

4. Summer @ Your Library is designed to reach and engage everyone

Quality indicators:

4a. The program has something for all ages and all demographic groups in the community.

4b. The program is responsive to the cultures, languages, abilities, and other diversities in the community.

4c. The staff makes a special effort to reach people who have not previously taken part in the summer program.


Summer @ Your Library is our name for all of the programming that takes place during the time that students are out of school during the summer months. Originally intended to help prevent the loss of reading skills over the summer, Summer @ Your Library has expanded to include programs for all ages, from babies to senior citizens. Increasingly, these programs take place outside in the community as well as inside the library walls.

By program, we mean the overall summer program. Traditionally, this was the summer reading program. Other terms now in use include summer learning program or summer reading challenge.

Principles are meant to guide libraries in developing a quality summer program.

Indicators are signposts or checkpoints to help staff determine whether their program achieves a given quality principle. Some libraries will be able to implement all indicators for all principles. Others, with fewer resources or more limited capacity, may only meet one or two indicators. All libraries will aspire to meet all indicators.

Evaluation and Outcomes

The annual Summer @ Your Library participation survey includes questions based on the indicators. Your responses will enable us to make available statewide and local data demonstrating how Summer @ Your Library in California builds strong communities, provides opportunities for learning, celebrates reading and literacy, and is designed to reach and engage everyone.

The Summer @ Your Library outcomes initiative is also aligned with the Summer @ Your Library principles and indicators. The Summer @ Your Library project includes new, streamlined, summer reading outcomes tools and resources to help you capture and demonstrate summer program outcomes for early learners, children, teens, and adults.


A working group of California librarians partnered with the California Library Association and its Summer @ Your Library project to develop the Summer @ Your Library quality principles and indicators. Working group members and CLA and California State Library staff met in person and gathered feedback from colleagues throughout the state to develop a set of principles and indicators that reflect and represent Summer @ Your Library across California.

Working Group members: Andie Apple, Natalie Cole, Cynthia Corderman, Trish Garone, Lisa Gonzalez, Christie Hamm, Anna Hartman, Kari Johnson, Nina Lindsay, Cindy Mediavilla, Eva Mitnick, Morgan Pershing, Beatriz Preciado, Carine Risley, Courtney Saldana, Sarah Vantrease, Virginia Walter.

CLA is exploring public library summer program best practices and quality standards with generous support from ScholarShare/TIAA-CREF.