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What You Said About What You Heard

Twenty-eight free audiobooks later, we asked you to tell us how the annual SYNC program went for you during 2021. Before launching into a report on our final report, we want to thank you all for participating, for helping spread the word all year about SYNC, and for helping us collect surveys so we have participant guidance as we plan for 2022.

Whether you are a numbers geek or go for the quotable remarks, we collected data to suit your interest. The big (numerical) picture:

  • Each of the 28 audiobooks was downloaded more than 3,400 during the week it was available to “borrow” (for 99 years)
  • In all, more than 99,000 free audiobooks were downloaded to participants’ personal Sora shelves
  • More than 1,800 participants responded to our request to help evaluate the program, so we were able to collect helpful information from teens, teachers, librarians, parents and other family members, and adults who discovered they could join, too
  • More than 100 participants were completely new to audiobook listening before this year’s SYNC program, and 94% of these new listeners said they now want to listen to more audiobooks
  • Another 800 or so respondents reported that SYNC led them to additional listening and print reading, too
  • More than three-quarters of the librarians and teachers who responded noted that they will include SYNC in summer programming again in 2022

So, what about the fun stuff, the remarks listeners made about what they heard and what they thought of SYNC in their own words? Here we go with a generous sampling from those 1,800+ surveys:

I am trying to increase my walking time and find that these audiobook selections make it easy! 218 consecutive days of 10,000 steps or more, and counting! (Adult)

I really love the diversity between the selections. You guys have fantasy, horror, biography/history, realistic fiction, basically all the genres and I love exploring my options! I also love the books that deal with the tough topics. Racism for one. And listening to your books has made me more empathetic to the people around me. In my household and the ones I am not around on a regular basis. Because of you I have read many books that I would not normally pick up and read. Keep doing what you’re doing! Thank you! (Teen who self-identifies as an avid listener)

I promoted this to all my students before summer and a few came back in August saying that it was all that got them through the summer. With COVID still around and some families still being cautious, a lot of the students didn't go on vacations, see family or anything. Just bummed around the house. This program helped. (High school librarian)

I liked this year's emphasis on gender identity issues. I doubt I'd have sought out any of the titles, and I enjoyed them and learned a lot. (Adult)

You have a good system. The app is good as I walk dogs every day, so the portability is good. A good variety of selections. My vision is impaired, so audio is my access to reading and being a part of the reading world. (Adult who learned about SYNC at local public library)

I really liked when you paired a young adult with an adult book on the same subject.

Maybe more explanation about using Sora if your school already has it. For example, we told our students to create a Sora account with their personal email so they can keep the books forever because once they graduate the school email is deleted and therefore the school Sora account is also deleted. Note: We will be reminding everyone again about this well before the 2022 program gets underway

I use listening when I’m too busy to sit through a book. It’s easy to do my regular day to day when I can listen to a book. I can even exercise while listening to a good book.

I originally participated in the free program to get a selection of reading material for my YA daughter. I probably listen more than she does but I enjoy the times we can listen together and have our own little book review session. (Parent)

I love reading books by marginalized authors and books with marginalized characters (queer characters, characters of color, Indigenous characters, disabled characters, characters practicing non-Christian religions, etc.). I prefer own-voices books! (Young adult)

I think everything is fabulous! I love being able to download and store all the audiobooks in the Sora app. In previous years, because I’m an overseas listener, I would only be able to legally download one of the two audiobooks per week (which I can understand) but I’m very happy I’m able to access both. I’m a personal reader who joined so long ago as a teen that I honestly can’t remember how. I haven’t listened to many but the ones I have I really enjoyed! I love how diverse the titles are and the balance between well-known and unknown titles (for me at least).

Some of the complaints we received cancelled each other out: too few genres/too many genres; not enough classics/more popular and fewer classics. We note that here just as a reminder that we heard more than 3,800 points of view so we know that if something pleases some, it may well displease others—and vice versa! As anyone who has worked with a publicly available program can guess, we also heard some wishes that are beyond our control to fulfill or even influence. Some of these currently unfulfillable wishes now live on our “someday” list until an opportunity arises that would make it practicable. We heard you; not everything, however, is possible right now.

What’s next? You can follow us on social media throughout the year and look for announcements about the 2022 program as early as… December of 2021!

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