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August 27, 2008 > InfoBrain: Teens give back to their community

InfoBrain: Teens give back to their community

By Rebecca Alcala, Teen Librarian Union City Library

The height of volunteer season is nearly over with the beginning of the school year and Alameda County's Tri-City Libraries are sending out a big "thank you" to local teen volunteers. Library statistics for July 2008 show that local teens logged in well over three hundred community service hours in the Tri-City Area libraries! Many different kinds of service opportunities are available during the upcoming school year for teens interested in giving back to their community.

Teen volunteers with a desire to help people may choose tutoring, building literacy skills with children and even providing technology assistance. Teens can check with their favorite branch library to find a variety of interesting opportunities.

The more traditional volunteer program offered at the library is also perhaps the most popular amongst teens. In this program volunteers are scheduled to come in during regular business hours to perform particular tasks. Some of the tasks volunteers may be asked to do include; shelving, book drop, straightening up the library, helping library staff with projects, and assisting with deliveries.

All three libraries also offer teens the opportunity to volunteer through teen action groups. These groups are comprised of teens 13 - 19 years old interested in having a say about what events and programs the libraries host for teens. In the past, these groups have organized book groups, teen movie shows, orientations for teens entering high school, and participated in decorating teen spaces. This past January, the Union City Library celebrated its first anniversary of the teen group, "The Union City Library Youth Movement."

Teens have also participated in literacy and educational programming as mentors/tutors to young children in the Homework Center at the Union City Library and Homework Express at the Newark Library. These programs allow teens who have demonstrated high skills in literacy, math, and science to assist elementary and middle school students with their homework. This past summer, teens at the Fremont Library tutored other teens in various levels of math in preparation for courses they will be taking in the coming school year. The Centerville Library trains teens who are interested in becoming a reading partner to young children or to read to children during preschool story time.

Perhaps the most innovative volunteer program that the Alameda County Library System offers teens is located at the Fremont Main Library. Gary Morrison, Teen Librarian and Gertrude Rooshan, Senior Services Representative, initiated the Teen/Senior Computer Connection program three years ago. The program provides teens with the opportunity to volunteer as tutors for senior citizens interested in developing Internet and computer skills. In 2007 this program was one of the five recipients of the Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults award sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and the Margaret Edwards Trust.

Find out more about how to participate in any of these volunteer opportunities by visiting the Alameda County Library website at or contact any one of the Tri-City locations.

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