Pictures from the MnT at the West Florida Public Library in Pensacola, FL. >> Dear IPMS,
Back in September, 2009, I got a call saying a man wanted to present a model-building program at the library. John told me, “We need to grow our model organization. “We are aging out and we need to start growing some young model builders.”
This phone call came right about the time the nightly news was all about the car industry collapse along with the troubles with the economy and jobs in general. Watching the news I thought, “For crying out loud, we ought to be teaching people how to make things, how to use their hands.” That is when the bell went off in my head.
A lot of people don’t know it, but libraries are getting hit hard. Right when everyone is turning to us to help with job searching and internet use is the very time when our funding gets cut. It has always been like this with libraries. When money dries up, people turn to us. Even though libraries are coming up short with people or hours or resources, we step forward because that is what libraries do. We are reactive. John’s offer was proactive.
Maybe this was a golden opportunity to reach the older kids, the ones that are hard to plan programs for, the ones who are only a decade away from needing a job. John’s offer couldn’t have come at a better time. I talked to my staff and we agreed that this was a chance to teach kids to use their hands at a skill other than texting on their phone. We didn’t realize that some of the soft skills that would grow out of the model programs for the kids would be careful listening and being a patient learner.
John was as good as his word. During the fall of 2009 he brought in models of cars and planes to display in our glass case. He presented a program for adults on building models. He arranged to come in on Saturday mornings to work on a model project so that the patrons could stop by and ask questions. He did a children’s program at three of our libraries and in 2010 he started the Make-n-Take program here at Pensacola Main Library. Here’s a sample Press Release we sent out to the media:
Modelers Wanted @ the West Florida Public Library
It’s a Car! It’s a Plane! No, it’s Superglue! Join us at West Florida Public Library where John Walen of Pensacola Modelers (IPMS) will show you the ins and outs of building model cars and planes. This is a great program for beginning and experienced modelers ages 6 and up. Plan on coming away with your very own model made by YOU and lots of ideas on how to become a junior modeler. Don’t forget to bring your grown-up – they want to have fun too! This program is free and is for ages 6 and up with adult supervision.
Our numbers have been very good with turnouts ranging between 20-30 people working on their model. When John is not scheduled for a monthly program, we stick with our theme, “Are your hands M-T? Then come to our Make-n-Take program!” We’ve had an origami class, a letter writing class to the overseas troops, and next month will be Batik painting.
Our main library will be under construction beginning this year. Our fifty-plus year old building is tired and in need of a makeover. As the librarian responsible for our youth services programs, a portion of my duties is to decide what programs to plan and bring on board or to let go of, and with the remodel it was clear that we needed to scale back. Make-n-Take was a clear winner in staying on the books, and in fact, I am now treating it as our Special Monthly Program and having other programs satellite around it through our remodel time. For the 2011 summer we have canceled our Summer Reading extravaganza at this branch because of construction, but again, Make-n-Take will take place each month to keep a backbone of special programs in place.
This is a letter of appreciation to John Walen and Bruce Drummond and Revell Corporation for all they’ve done in bringing this program to our Pensacola kids. Really though it is also a love letter to the International Plastic Modelers’ Society to say we love what you have done for our youngsters by donating materials and your organization’s support. With much appreciation, thank you.
West Florida Public Library