Jeffco library summer reading program offers opportunity for teen volunteers

Teens learn job skills, help thousands of patrons

Caitlin Danborn
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 6/12/18

When school gets out, there are students who relish the feeling of never having to pick up a book again until August. But that is not the case for the hundreds of teen volunteers at the many …

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Jeffco library summer reading program offers opportunity for teen volunteers

Teens learn job skills, help thousands of patrons

Posted

When school gets out, there are students who relish the feeling of never having to pick up a book again until August. But that is not the case for the hundreds of teen volunteers at the many locations of Jefferson County Public Library.

JCPL’s summer reading program, which has been part of the library for nearly 50 years, relies heavily on its teen volunteers to make it happen.

“Teen volunteers are a pretty integral part of our program,” says Arvada Library Public Services Manager Cindy Jaye. “It is a huge customer service project, and we rely on teens.”

Jaye oversees the summer reading program as a whole and interacts with teens at the Arvada library.

Teen volunteers fill out an application, are interviewed, and participate in mandatory training, where they are instructed how to interact with library patrons, as well as how to represent the library in a professional manner and promote various other JCPL programs.

In 2017, nearly 300 teens volunteered for the summer reading program, signing up patrons of all ages for the program and handing out prizes.

“It’s very much like a real life job experience,” said Jaye. The teen volunteer program is designed for teens to gain experience in a professional environment and build their college applications and resumes.

“I love to see the teen volunteers’ growth over the summer,” Jaye said.

The summer reading program had over 43,000 participants in 2017 and the goal for 2018 is to have 48,000 participants. But for Jaye, the program is not just about the numbers — it is about community engagement with reading. Patrons that were not enthusiastic readers before the summer are transformed into avid readers over the course of the summer.

“I love to see how excited our customers get. Every year we get heartwarming stories … I love knowing that this has an impact on our patrons.”

This year’s theme for the program is Rock the Books, and patrons can log minutes online and pick up prizes when they register, meet the halfway point, and reach the predetermined goals.

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