Librarian of the Month: Lorie Hernesh
This month’s featured librarian is Lorie Hernesh, Children’s Program Coordinator for the Herr Memorial Library in Mifflinburg, PA.
Each week, Lorie teaches a program called Discover, in which the library offers classes for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers up to age five. The classes include weekly themes, stories, read alouds, crafts, and activities that are presented in a fun and educational way. Lorie also presents story times to area preschools. She incorporates a specific Mutt-i-grees lesson at least once during each Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer session. She also ties Mutt-i-grees into her preschool classes. Below, Lorie shares some of the ways in which the library has helped Mutt-i-grees in her community:
• Patrons and staff participated in various food and supply donations for Arthur’s Pet Panty and Mostly Mutts Animal Shelter. The organizations also had the opportunity to speak to families to inform and let them know of their needs.
• Children participating in the library’s summer reading program helped to make braided dog rope toys for the dogs staying at Mostly Mutts Animal Shelter.
• The library held a Do You Have the Bark? reading challenge to encourage and inspire children to read (or be read to) a book about dogs, puppies, adopting, pets, and caring for a pet. A winner was selected and received a prize.
• The library held a pet photo contest where children could bring in a photo of their pets and everyone had a chance to vote and a winner was selected.
• The library partnered with a local veterinarian, Dr. Daniel Ward D.V.M., who offered a low cost rabies clinic for cats and dogs.
• Children attending the Summer Discover Program participated in a plush animal shelter adoption, where children could select a plush pet to adopt and take home. Each child received a plush pet, adoption certificate, carry box to help the pet get home safely, and a paw print stamp.
Lorie praises Mutt-i-grees as a terrific program. She continues, “There are great lesson plan ideas and I feel that it teaches children important lessons in life!” As an animal lover and advocate (she has a small farm animal rescue), Lorie is a big fan of Dr. Jane Goodall, who she says is one of her heroes. Like Dr. Goodall, who has two plush mascots herself, Lorie loves to include stuffed animals when she works with young people. The library has adopted Ruff, their Mutt-i-gree puppet, as its mascot and provides a bin of “Ruff’s Reading Buddies,” which are plush pets that children can to read to while visiting the library.
What makes Mutt-i-grees in the Library unique is its focus on teaching empathy, an essential life skill. One of the best ways to cultivate empathy and compassion, says Lorie, is to demonstrate and model that positive behavior. “I am not only teaching, inspiring and guiding the children, but their caregivers as well,” she explains.
Check out the upcoming events that Lorie has planned at her library below:
• Ruff’s Readers Monthly Reading Challenge is a way to encourage children to read and caregivers to read to their children using various suggested themes to include animals of the month, holidays, and national observance. Each month, a winner will be selected to win a prize!
• October will include a Ruff’s Read to Your Pet Photo Contest where caregivers can submit a photo of their child reading a library book to his/her real or plush pet. This contest is designed to help promote literacy in children, educate patrons on the health benefits of reading to a dog or other pet, and to help create a strong bond between children and animals.
• Caregivers will soon be able to check-out Ruff’s Reading Adventure Discovery Bag. It is a bag that will contain various books on dogs, Ruff (the library mascot), a journal to document Ruff’s adventures, a pet puzzle and a binder containing additional information, snack ideas, crafts and activities families can do at home with their children.
• Reading Therapy Dogs will soon visit the library. This will allow children the opportunity to practice reading to a dog in a comfortable, relaxed and non-judgmental way.
Keep up the great work, Lorie!