Youth volunteer thrives at local library

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 19, 2004

Even though she thinks right now she’d like to be a lawyer, she may become a librarian because she loves the library and working there so much.

Vanessa Gorenflo, 14, who is a 10th-grader at Dallas County High School, began her work as a volunteer in the Selma-Dallas County Public Library’s Reference Department on June 3. She was one of six chosen from 30 applicants, she said.

She plans to continue working in the library on weekends, after school reopens next month.

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Her sister Stephanie, 12, a seventh-grader at Martin Middle School was also chosen this summer to work in the library – in the Children’s Department – one of 12 from a different pool of applicants.

Vanessa Gorenflo considers herself to be fortunate to get one of the coveted summer slots. “I’m one of the lucky 6,” she said.

She works Tuesdays and Thursdays 9-11 a.m. and loves every minute of it.

“I love the library, I love the people in the library, I love helping the people in the library. I love the potential in the library.”

Her duties include making copies, shelving books, helping with questions, typing, anything that she’s asked to do.

“There’s lots of interaction with people who come to the library,” she said. “I help 6-7 people a day.

“Previous summers I did babysitting,” she said. “Now a number of the children I sat with are coming to the library and it’s fun to see them here. They always come over and talk with me.”

She is especially grateful for the library’s openness to everyone who wants to come and use the library – including deaf people. Because her mom is deaf, along with several other members of her family.

The family members are avid library users and Vanessa is almost always there to help with communication since she is highly proficient in signing – one of the means by which deaf people communicate. She said she’s been signing since she was 2 months old.

Gorenflo’s favorite subject in school is math. “I love math,” she said.

She is active in extracurricular activities at Dallas County High School, where she is a member of the dance team and plays softball. She also likes to go to the library a lot, she said, and remembers fondly when she got her own library card as a child. Additionally she’s very active in her church, Northside Baptist.

Gorenflo hopes to continue volunteering in the Selma library even as she considers doing signing for a club in Montgomery, to which her deaf uncle belongs, that bowls. “They want me to sign for them next summer for weekends,” she said, “but I could still work here at the library.”

Gorenflo said her first day in June was a little rough. “I was in the Reference Department and people came with all these questions I couldn’t answer. But I soon learned what I needed to know, and am still learning.”

Gorenflo is a member of the Celebration! children’s chorus that will be the highlight of next Tuesday’s centennial celebration, beginning on Selma Avenue in front of the library at 5:30 p.m. She will also be helping out in other ways, but has not yet been told her assignments.