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Camden County Library is proud to announce that its Riletta L. Cream Ferry Ave. Branch Library is the recipient of a Penguin Random House Library Award for Innovation. The award is being given for the library’s ‘Tutor Time’ program that it operates in partnership with volunteer tutors from the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.
Penguin Random House announced the award at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits in Atlanta on Monday, Jan. 23. The award consists of $1,000 in free books which the library can select from the Penguin Random House catalog.
‘Tutor Time’ Program
A pool of about 51 medical students regularly volunteer to tutor Camden youth three times a week during the school year at the Ferry Ave. library. The tutoring sessions consistently attract about 16 children, filling the branch’s meeting room to capacity. After tutoring, the sessions offer snacks, games or crafts to keep the children, tweens and teens engaged and coming back each week.
The tutoring program started in 2013 when then medical student Dr. Brian McCauley approached Youth Services Librarian Lisa Brandenburg about the possibility of Rowan medical students reading to children to fulfill the university’s community service requirement. During his first visit, a particularly busy day at the library, Brandenburg asked McCauley if he might be able to help some of the children with their math homework, which he was glad to do. The experience inspired McCauley to propose a tutoring program staffed with medical student volunteers held at the library and the partnership was born.
In January 2014 Brandenburg was honored with the Martin Luther King Service Award from Cooper Medical School of Rowan University for her role in arranging the partnership with Camden County Library.
Freeholder Bill Moen, liaison to the Camden County Library System, commended the publisher and talked about the program as an asset to the city.
“This partnership leverages resources for the children of Camden and gives them strong mentors and role models three times a week they can rely on,” Moen said. “This program and the award from Penguin Random House will provide a lifetime of learning through these tutoring sessions and an extraordinary asset for their studies. Furthermore, these medical students are giving back to our community by volunteering their time and energy creating a real win-win for the city.”
When Brandenburg moved to another branch of the Camden County Library, Aaron Zegas succeeded her as Youth Services Librarian at Ferry Ave. where he continues to run the Tutor Time sessions. His work was recognized at the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University’s Partner Dinner in 2015.
“We are always seeking meaningful ways to engage with the communities we serve. We are proud of ‘Tutor Time’s success and proud of this recognition by one of the major book publishers in the country,” says Camden County Library Director Linda Devlin.
In its news release announcing the award winners, Skip Dye, Vice President of Academic Marketing and Library Sales for Penguin Random House said, “Never has there been a more important time to encourage, support and value the impact that librarians have in our society.”