“The library is a great place of community,” said Emmy Hilker, who recently graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in English. “I didn’t become a library volunteer just for the volunteer hours required in high school, but because it was fun. It was rewarding to help develop programs for my community.”
She volunteered at the Crozet Library for eight years, throughout high school and college, and has recently been hired by the Jefferson Madison Regional Library (JMRL) as a shelver. She is planning to pursue a degree in Library and Information Sciences after a gap year. “One of the coolest programs we did was for Valentine’s Day. We invited people to make a date with a book. We each chose a favorite book, wrapped it, and wrote a profile on the outside like you would read on a dating site. Then library patrons could check them out.”
The Crozet Library is losing several other dedicated teen volunteers who are graduating from local high schools on June 4 and 5. Most have been volunteering since they were 13 years old, the youngest they could apply. Most are graduating from Western Albemarle High School (WAHS).
Maeve Ridings has been a library volunteer for seven years. She was so eager, the Crozet librarians allowed her to begin volunteering early, at age 12. She is also an officer of the Teen Advisory Board (TAB).
“Serving on TAB is an incredible opportunity to develop leadership skills. I learned to plan and execute events, how to work with people, and how to create welcoming environments.” She knows these skills will stand her in good stead as she attends the College of Charleston in South Carolina as a pre-law student in the fall. She plans to study economics and international affairs. Maeve is also president of the WAHS book club.
Diana Kim has been a library volunteer for five years, and a TAB officer for four. She plans to attend William and Mary as a pre-law student. “You make so many friends by being involved in the library; Maeve and I actually met through TAB. I learned how to conduct community outreach and recruit other teens. Once you tap that energy and get them talking about what they’re passionate about, they become hooked.”
Mackenzie Whitley has been a library volunteer for six years. She plans to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder and will major in astronomy. Isabella (Izzy) Kim has volunteered for five years. She will attend Virginia Tech, to study in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. She plans to live at Studio 77, in the Creativity and Innovation District. One event she planned as a TAB officer was a K-pop night, with Korean pop star music videos, related crafts, a K-pop dance challenge, and Korean snacks.
Anna Henderson, Juwon Park, Natalie Farris, and Allison Aronson are also graduating from WAHS this year, but were unable to attend the photo shoot. Natalie and Allison also served on TAB. Anya Le is graduating from the Math, Engineering, and Science Academy at Albemarle High School (AHS).
“The Teen Advisory Board is a group of volunteers from 8th to 12th grade who meet monthly to talk about what they would like to see at the library in terms of events, displays, and collection development,” explained Jess Moore, Crozet’s Young Adult Librarian. “We also talk about what they are interested in or nerding out about. We get teens from Henley, WAHS, and some who are home-schooled. TAB is a place where they can socialize but also contribute to the community.”
One of the fun events they’ve planned in the past is Escape Rooms. “The TAB members come up with all the clues, puzzles, and decorations. A smaller committee meets to execute the plan.” These were held after library hours with special permission. Many events are held in the main library room on Tuesday evenings when the library is open late. Moore maintains an email list to notify members of meetings and events. Meeting virtually for the past year, TAB currently has about 20 members, but has been as high as 35 members pre-pandemic. They met outside for the first time in May, socially distanced and all masked up.
“There are three TAB officers elected by the other members who have more commitment and responsibility,” she continued. “They take notes, head up committees, are usually the first ones there to set up for meetings and events, and generally help to keep the librarian on track. I appreciate that all these volunteers care so much about the library and making sure it’s a space for everyone. They work really hard, not only to be welcoming and inviting to any new members who join TAB, but also to help the library do the same for everyone. They’re so dedicated and passionate, it helps me to keep my passion alive as well!” Since she is losing six TAB members, Moore is recruiting. If you’d like to join, please email her at [email protected]
JMRL moved to Tier 2 on May 17, so the Crozet Library is now open to walk-in traffic without appointments. A limited number of patrons are allowed in the building at one time, and a time limit of one to two hours is recommended in order to be considerate of others. The maximum is 32 people, but the Crozet branch has not exceeded that yet. Many thanks and congratulations to all of these community-minded teen library volunteers!