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Showcasing The Best: Murrindindi Library Service - Junior Friends Of The Library

Background

1.1 Issues
Junior Friends of the Library was developed in response to a lack of non-sporting recreational opportunities for youth in our small remote country town. There was also a need for a comfortable affordable gathering place for young people to meet. The library is ideally placed to engage with young people, it is neutral territory - anyone can hang out there and itís free.

Building on these attributes our experienced staff (with a combined total of 30 years working with youth) provide a range of interesting activities to encourage young people into the library space. They are invited to contribute suggestions for future activities, excursions and fundraising opportunities. These ideas are then developed into a yearly program of events. The Junior Friends of the Library program aims to develop the necessary skills and interests in our young people to build social capital within our community.

1.2 Target Group
The target group is 10-16 year olds who are not necessarily interested in sport. Sport is the main recreational pursuit in our small country town and very little is provided in the way of resources or buildings for those young people with other interests and skills.

1.3 Funds and Resources
One focus of this group has been fundraising, so to a degree they have been self-funded. Raising money, counting money in fact anything to do with money has real appeal for this age group.

Grants for special projects have been received from:

In kind donations of goods and services have been received from:

1.4 Management
A key staff member is responsible for liaison, planning, project development and promotion. Other staff and volunteers are co-opted to assist with implementation of projects as needed.

What Have You Done?

2.1 Key steps and activities
In 1990 through observation and anecdotal evidence it was noted that many young people were hanging out in the library after school. Some sort of group activity was needed to consolidate these young people and validate their interest in the books and the library.

It was felt that a straight book appreciation group would have limited appeal to this group so a JFOL was formed as a library support group which would provide positive social interaction, a bit of fun and food, while raising money for the library.

A public meeting was called inviting anyone over 130 cm who loves books, money and power to come to the library and form a group. Over 40 young people attended and these aims and objectives came out of the discussion:

At this meeting a formal committee of youth was formed which became Junior Friends of the Library Alexandra under the auspices of the adult Friends of the Library group

JFOL provides meaningful participation and has grown into a group of supporters and fans of the library that meet monthly, follow a published program, discuss themes and books make plans. Each year the committee develops an annual plan of monthly activities, plus two or three major events, fundraisers, activities or excursions per year.

The incumbent committee influences the direction the group takes for that year eg one year the group had a philanthropic focus raising money for their peers in need locally and internationally eg East Timor, Africa, Aboriginal Australians. Other years theyíve focused on writing and authors, the arts including an art show, music and performance and of course fundraising for library resources

Staff have basically learnt on the job. This gave them the flexibility to respond to the ideas and suggestions coming from the youth group.

2.2 Partnerships and community involvement

What Have You Achieved?

3.1 Achievements

These events were planned, funded, manned and attended by JFOL members.

Excursions

Fundraisers (involving 20 - 30 people each time)

JFOL Fundraising achievements (resources purchased for Alexandra library)

Annual Events

3.2 Impact on the community

3.3 Impact on staff

3.4 Unexpected outcomes

3.5 Future Benefits

What Have You Learnt?

4.1 Key factors of our success

4.2 Main challenges, their impact and management

4.3 What would we do differently?

4.4 Advice to libraries implementing a similar strategy

4.5 Anything else
JFOL is a group of highly motivate local youth who meet monthly in the Alexandra library. Each month has a different theme and meetings are promoted via local media, attractive flyers, posters and school newsletters.



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