Teen Volunteers Help Make the Summer Great in West Chester
How do you gauge the success of a library program?
At MidPointe Library West Chester, it’s easy. When young participants return as volunteers, ready and willing to assist those who’ve come after them, you know you’ve got a darn good program on your hands.
That’s exactly what’s happened during MidPointe Library’s Summer Reading Program (SRP), a local tradition that encourages citizens of all ages to visit their local library branches, read books, listen to audiobooks and receive prizes for their efforts. Special guests and entertainment are a big part of the program.
This year’s program, which ran from June 1 to July 31 at all MidPointe locations, was sponsored by the Journal News.
West Chester’s highly successful SRP for children and teens was due in large part to its many young volunteers, says Susan Norvell, Information/Reference Teen Librarian. Some of them participated in the program as young children.
“Our teen volunteers are the backbone of our Summer Reading Program,” she states. “Without them, we would not be able to have the many wonderful children’s programs that we do. The volunteers handle the reading logs and prize distributions so that the Children’s Staff can plan and carry out their amazing programs. Without our teen volunteers, the children’s staff would have to man the tables and that would leave very little time for programs!”
“This year we had 104 teen volunteers to help us run our Summer Reading Program,” Norvell says proudly. “That’s 104 volunteers just during the months of June and July!”
When you delve into those numbers, the volunteers’ work is even more impressive.
“Every hour the library was open during June and July, we needed between 2-4 volunteers to man the SRP tables. That equates to 606 hours,” Norvell explains. “We also needed volunteers to help out with the fantastic children’s programs that are planned all summer long. If you add in the hours they volunteered for the children’s programs, that’s an additional 85-plus hours...
“...That’s almost 700 hours that we needed our teen volunteers just in the months of June and July!”
Other Summer Reading duties included redeeming prizes for online patrons, setting up rooms for programs, taking attendance counts, running craft and/or game stations, providing general supervision of children attending programs, restocking materials, crafts preparations -- even donning the costume of MidPointe’s lion mascot, Shakespurr.
Among the Summer Reading student volunteers this year were Emily Lin and the brother-and-sister team of Munir and Asmaa Zuberi. The trio signed up participants and handed out prizes in the Children’s Department.
Emily, a soon-to-be freshman, recalls “how helpful the volunteers were” when she participated in Summer Reading at a young age. “I just wanted to be a part of” the program, says the fan of realistic and fantasy fiction.
A love of reading motivated the Zuberi siblings to volunteer.
Asmaa, 12, a fan of Hunger Games, says SR “encourages reading” which in turn “opens doors to other things.” Books, she says, “have been a big part of my life.” They “inspire” and help children to “be more creative and think outside the box.”
Munir, 15, who enjoyed the Beast Quest series at a younger age, states that “Reading is very important,” including “reading for leisure.” It “improves your vocabulary and helps you understand the world around you,” he says, adding that reading also helps “improve the imagination” so that one is better able to comprehend what an author is trying to convey.
Summer Reading isn’t the only opportunity for young people to volunteer at MidPointe West Chester.
“We use volunteers all year long,” says Norvell. “During the school year it is just on a smaller scale. Typically teens volunteer on Saturday mornings/afternoons and Tuesday evenings when they assist with programs…”
Student volunteers hail from various schools. And with Lakota West High School across the street, “We have many teens who come over after school and end up becoming volunteers either to meet a classroom requirement of volunteer service hours or simply because they are interested in learning more about the library and giving back to the community,” Norvell says.
Student volunteers are always welcome. Applications are available in the West Chester Young Adult Department or on the library website at www.midpointelibrary.org.
Summer, Autumn, Winter, or Spring, young volunteers have been and always will be a vital part of the MidPointe Library system.
“Here at MidPointe WC, we love our amazing teen volunteers and couldn’t succeed without them!” Norvell proudly proclaims.