|Release Date: 7/17/2012||Contact: Diana L. Spencer, 410-887-8905|
TOWSON, MD— At virtually every branch of the Baltimore County Public Library, middle school students from Baltimore County Public Schools are serving as summer reading volunteers. The county library’s summer reading program began June 11, 2012, and continues through August 12, 2012, offering prizes and other incentives and activities to encourage reading. The program continues to grow in popularity. In 2011, approximately 10,000 more young people signed on as summer readers than in the previous year. This year, 541 student volunteers from middle schools across the county are assisting with registering children into the library’s summer reading program, answering questions, monitoring the completion of reading milestones, and helping library patrons use computers and locate materials. From 2008 to 2011, student volunteers have contributed more than 10,000 hours of service each summer. “Through this and other service-learning activities, our students learn wonderful ‘soft’ skills, such as communication, organization, and time management, while utilizing the knowledge and skills they have acquired in the classroom," said Sean Patterson, BCPS’ service-learning assistant. As part of Maryland’s graduation requirements, students must earn 75 hours of pre-approved student service-learning. Students can earn hours through course-based projects, approved service in the community, or through other activities organized by their schools. Each BCPS middle school and high school has a designated service-learning coordinator to assist students in fulfilling this requirement. “Through service-learning activities, in addition to gaining the satisfaction of bettering their communities, students often discover talents, strengthen skills, meet mentors, build self-confidence, and identify career choices," said Patterson. Della Curtis, BCPS’ library information services coordinator, also notes that “besides the service-learning credit, students learn that public libraries are community spaces for lifelong learning, and they benefit from the public library staff members who nurture their thinking and their workforce readiness skills."