Ever wondered why this newsletter makes such a fuss over Friends volunteers? Simple: Without the support of many dedicated minds and active hands, many library programs would shrink. Sources of improvement funds would vanish. Books would languish longer on sorting carts. Overall, Platt’s staff would have a hard time building this branch into the integral community service center a library should be.
But – you’re probably asking if you have some free time and aren’t already donating a portion to Platt – why me? What could I do?
Since you’re a Friends member, the answer to that is obvious. You have kindred talents and interests, and there are an equal number of ways to put those talents to work awaiting you at Platt Branch. Just for instance:
Like books (who doesn’t)? Then:
Clean freak? Green thumb?
In short, whatever you can offer, we need it.
BUT, the very best reasons to become a volunteer are the personal satisfaction you will get from making such a valuable contribution...AND the great group of people you’ll get to know and have as personal “Friends.” Try it, guaranteed you’ll like it! To volunteer, contact Elaine Corman.
Back in 1988, Children’s Services of the Los Angeles Public Library developed a program that would provide basic training, background checks, and a framework in which older adults could comfortably interact with children who, for whatever reason, needed literate, attentive surrogate grandparents to read to them and encourage their attempts. The result, Grandparents And Books, or GAB, as we call it, was an immediate winner.
The pilot program debuted in Angeles Mesa, Benjamin Franklin, and San Pedro Branches in January of l989. By the end of December, the initial 46 volunteers had read to over 7,000 kids. They also proved a hypothesis: No matter what their background, children exposed to the enjoyment adults derive from books develop a compelling desire to learn to read and an enduring love of books. Simple, but then great ideas usually are.
The GAB program now encompasses most of Los Angeles’s 67 branch libraries. As of December 2000, 1,167 LAPL Library Grandparents had read to some 375,000 kids. LAPL’s GAB Staff has helped set up 140 GAB programs statewide, as well as introducing this program to librarians from all 50 states. There have even been inquiries from abroad. Given the enthusiasm GAB generates in schools and the community, LAPL Children’s Services has every reason to be proud of their brainchild.
It certainly works at Platt Branch. We have offered the GAB program since September ’95, starting with 14 volunteers. Our GAB ranks have swelled to 22 current Platt Library Grandparents, with another 7 from Woodland Hills reading here for the duration of their displacement. We also have a wealth of willing ears. In just the first six months of 2001, our Grandparents read for 361 hours to at least 1,277 smiling faces.
Those are the facts and figures. But the heart of GAB volunteering is in the experience itself. You’ll meet kids who will amaze you if your only experience with today’s youth is through dire news stories: eager, bright, courteous, curious, and very precocious kids who look forward to listening. You’ll get to know parents from a range of cultures, united by a thirst for great children’s literature. You’ll find Friends who share your enthusiasm for inspired whimsy. Best of all, you get to read all the new kids’ books without feeling you should be pursuing something more profound.
Just ask Grandmas Donna Fellman, Gail Hancock, Ethel Margolin, Helen Worthen, and Grandpa Terry Haney. They helped start Platt’s program, and they’re still reading 6 years later. Gail has hardly missed a week in all that time. Donna and Terry take an occasional vacation, but continue to delight the Library Staff by scrupulously covering each other’s reading dates. There must be something besides GAB’s occasional brunches that keeps these active people GABing away. Helen even travels to a branch less well endowed, as does Ruth Cochran – a Woodland Hills Branch volunteer who helped start its program 10 years ago.
Which brings us to an especially needed volunteer opportunity. Some branches have a problem recruiting Grandparents. We’d love to have you as a Platt Branch GAB reader on any terms, but if you can travel and would like to help less active GAB groups as well, they would be very grateful. Call Children’s Librarians Vicki Migliori or Nancy Brennan TODAY! – (818) 340-9386.
In any event, do think about at least spending a couple hours every other week reading to kids who love to be read to. GAB has proved its worth. And there are few ways to spend your free time as worthwhile as spreading a love of literacy.
A TRIBUTE TO SPECIAL PEOPLE
We salute the generous volunteers who donated more than 7500 recorded work hours
in the service of Platt Branch and the Friends of Platt Library during the
The Friends of Platt Library Board Jan Metzler, and Staff
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