A highlight of the NYLA conference in Saratoga was hearing from the Weedsport Free Library’s Jr. Friends group. During the ten years of the Jr. Friends’ existence, over one hundred kids in grades three through eight have participated, and some have gone on to be assistant counselors.
So what does a Jr. Friends group do? At the conference session titled Kids Can Rock YOUR Library (hosted by YSS and EFR), attendees learned that the Jr. Friends hold fundraising events so they can host author visits and take an annual trip to the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. Bruce Coville, Johanna Hurwitz, and Alyssa Capucilli are just a few of the authors the group has hosted. The Jr. Friends celebrate National Gaming Day with Wii tournaments and sleepovers at the library. They also help children in need by donating brand new pajamas to The Great Bedtime Story Pajama Drive, which Scholastics delivers and matches with a book.
The group started back when Jr. Friends leader Anne Mlod was a Friend of the Library and she brought her daughter Jana to the meetings. Jana thought the adult meetings were boring and asked to start a group for kids. Mlod, a past library director and school librarian, agreed to help get it started, and soon elementary school teacher Holly Dietsche was brought on as co-advisor. The group is managed by an elected board of young officers who meet once a month to plan activities for the Jr. Friends.
Stephanie of the Huntington Public Library was sitting next to me at the session and was equally impressed by the program. We were even treated to presentations from Jr. Friends members Derek, Michelle, and AJ, and a musical introduction using gaming equipment.
For copies of the handouts, please contact me at the Youth Services office.