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The reading wins of winter

Readers have once again crushed the January challenge posed by the Suffolk Public library, and in doing so have earned a fun surprise for this Saturday’s tech-a-palooza.

According to Community Relations Coordinator Angie Sumner, the 8,000-book goal for this January’s Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge was reached late Wednesday morning.

Because the goal was reached before the Flip the Switch event that will be held at the North Suffolk Library on Saturday, the Friends of the Suffolk Library will donate $1,000 for purchasing new technology that will be unveiled at the event.

The community was cutting it close towards the deadline. There were roughly 2,000 books left to go on Tuesday, but the push on social media helped spread the word, according to Sumner. Storytime sessions also helped pick up the pace, as each child who participated counted as one entry for the challenge.

Classrooms also helped saved the day, Community Services Librarian Matt Thompson said.

“Classrooms are really what put us over the top,” Thompson said, and there’s still time for more classrooms to participate before the end of January.

The library is competing in the second annual Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge, which is once again held by software company Zoobean and “Shark Tank” billionaire investor Mark Cuban.

Cuban is challenging 250 schools and libraries across the country to meet a collective goal of reading for at least 5 million minutes and 75,000 books this January, more than double the number of school and library challengers last year, according to the press release.

Cuban has pledged to donate $35,000 to the top-performing libraries and schools if this goal is achieved. Suffolk Public Library was one of last year’s finalists and received $1,500 from Cuban and Beanstack for being one of the top book-logging libraries.

Participating libraries use Zoobean’s web and mobile application Beanstack to log reading time and books in January. Last January, readers more than doubled the library’s goal of 3,000 books, so staff raised the bar even higher this January, and they did it again.

But there’s still plenty of incentive to keep reading the rest of this month. For starters, each community member receives an entry into a grand prize drawing for every book logged. The grand prize will be a shopping spree at the Friends of the Suffolk Library bookstore.

There will be a total of three winners, one from each of the following age groups: kids ages 6 to 11, teens ages 12 to 17 and adults ages 18 and older. Children ages 5 and younger will be eligible to win a tech-themed literacy fun pack.

The top elementary school in Suffolk will receive a donation for the school library, and the best classroom in Suffolk will enjoy a tech demo.

Suffolk Public Library also has to keep up its reputation from last year as one of the top-performing libraries in the nation.

“Let’s go for 10,000,” Sumner said. “We can’t just ‘hit’ it. We’ve got to exceed it.”

Paper logs will also be available at each Suffolk Public Library location for those that don’t wish to log electronically. Visit suffolkpubliclibrary.com/SuffolkReads for more information on the challenge, prizes and how to register and log books.