High School Volunteers Help Supply the Niagara Falls Public Library

The Niagara Falls Public Library.
  • Greg Jansen.

Another school year is coming to an end and this one has fortunately been at least a little more normal for the students than the previous two. As a community development and programming librarian involved in teen services at the Niagara Falls Public Library, I take advantage of these last days of June to reflect on the contribution of teenagers to the programs offered by the Niagara Falls Public Library in the during the last school year.

Even though the COVVI-19 pandemic was raging, a devoted team of volunteer students would virtually join us on Tuesdays and Thursdays to help primary school students practice their reading and mathematics skills in our Reading Buddies and programs and Number Ninjas. Although the focus is on the development of specific academic skills, these programs also serve as an important point of contact between younger and older students. This social function has taken on new importance as social ties have frayed during intermittent periods of isolation from school to home over the past two years.

As things started to open up a little more in the spring and high schools reinstated the requirement for students to do community service hours, we saw an influx of volunteer applications. Seizing this opportunity to involve even more students in the library, we asked and received their help to pack seeds for our Seed to Seed program, in which we put a wide variety of seeds of vegetables and herbs available to the community at no direct cost, as well as gift bags for kids who sign up for our ever-popular TD Summer Reading Club. Without the help of the teenagers, we would not have been able to prepare the material for these popular shows as quickly and efficiently as we did.

Another way for teens to get involved with the library is through our Teen Advisory Group (TAG). During monthly TAG meetings, teens shared their experiences of living and attending school in Niagara Falls as well as their views on library services and programs. From these TAG conversations came the idea for an exhibit of student art from grades 9-12 at the library. With the help of TAG, we found works by teenage artists from across the city and exhibited them at the Rosberg Gallery in the Victoria Avenue Library from June 1-22.

So thank you, volunteers. Thank you for your contribution to the library. Thank you for your contribution to the community. Good luck to those of you graduating and moving on to the next phase of your life.

If you have students in your life who will be in grades 9-12 in September, please encourage them to consider volunteering at the library. For more details, they can visit https://my.nflibrary.ca/About/WorkWithUs.

Greg Janssen is the Community Development and Programming Librarian at the Niagara Falls Public Library. Contact him at [email protected]

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