Tuesday, March 04, 2008

College Mentors for Kids Group Visits Bracken Library

On Monday, January 28, 2008, with the help of my Nancy Pearl librarian action figure, I had the privilege of escorting five first through fourth graders and their Ball State student mentors on a tour of Bracken Library. The action figure, with her "shushing" movement, helped us to remember to keep our voices at a normal level. Unlike the stereotypical hush and quiet of a librarian, I encouraged talking and interaction as we made our way through the bustle of Bracken that is always packed with students and faculty.

College Mentors for Kids, a non-profit program, which matches college students with primary school-aged children, emphasizes role-modeling, help with studies, and listening and talking together. The mentors strive to impress kids with the importance of education and going to college.

The idea to visit Bracken Library came from Christy E. Brewer, a Ball State student and College Mentor, who had earlier attended a library instruction session for her Social Work 220 class.

During our tour, the children asked challenging questions, such as “How much do all the books weigh?” “How much does this shelf weigh?” and even the quite scholarly, “How many books do you have on mythology?”

While I might not have had factual answers for all their questions, I was able to interact and share in a few giggles and discoveries with some questions of my own: “Does your school librarian help you find books?” “How many times do you think your school library could fit in this building?” One library tourist guessed that his school library would fit hundreds of times into Bracken.

Settling into a room on Bracken’s lower level in the Educational Resources Collections, I ended the tour with a discussion about what Ball State students were doing in the Library: studying, reading, using computers, and even eating! That it is okay to eat in Bracken Library was quite shocking to our visitors.

We took a look at some information materials like several youth books (“We have that book at my library, too,” I was informed by one young visitor) and even “college kid” reference books. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits was especially intriguing to the young mythology buff. The group also got to see and touch items from our realia collection, including a doll in Nepali dress and a globe of the moon.

“Everyone really enjoyed the presentation and the tour of the library,” said Christy Brewer.

Community service is promoted within the College Mentors for Kids program, so the mentors and young students created bookmarks for library visitors. Perhaps in years to come, these same young people will find themselves in Bracken Library again, this time as college students themselves.

For information, contact Erin S. Gabrielson, Information Services Librarian, ESGabrielson@bsu.edu, 765-285-3325


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