Library Outreach to the Boy Scouts; Librarians Can Help Scouts Earn Badges in Reading and Bookbinding

By Garrison, Paul E. | American Libraries, February 1986 | Go to article overview

Library Outreach to the Boy Scouts; Librarians Can Help Scouts Earn Badges in Reading and Bookbinding


Garrison, Paul E., American Libraries


LAST YEAR, THE 75TH DIAmond Jubilee year of the Boy Scouts of America, the 1,290,000th Scout received the Reading Merit Badge. The American Library Association helped make this landmark possible.

For more than 25 years, the ALA, through an advisory committee,* has promoted pursuit of the badge at national and local Scout events. The association encourages its members to serve as reading badge counselors and provides an advisory committee from the Association Service to Children (ALSC) to help formulate badge requirements. Librarians from this committee, chaired by Margo Daniels of Fans Church (Va.) Public Library, also prepare bibliographies, with the counsel of the BSA, for the 119 merit badge information booklets the Boy Scouts publish. This cooperative relationship led the advisory committee to staff the Reading Merit Badge booth at the last three Boy Scout Jamborees in 1977, 1981, and 1985 (see sidebar). Qualifying for the reading badge To qualify for the Reading Merit Badge, introduced in 1929, Scouts meet four requirements. They visit a local library to get a fist of six books, magazines, or other materials on a topic they enjoy. They take the materials to their librarian or adult counselor. With his or her guidance, they design a project using this material. Second, with the librarian's help, reading badge aspirants select six books of fiction. They read them, explain to the counselor

Or librarian why the books were chosen, whether they enjoyed the books, and what the books meant to them.

Then, Scouts read and discuss two books or magazine articles about the world around them.

Scouts conclude by devoting four hours to any of three activities: reading to a sick or homebound person in a hospital, nursing home, or residence; doing volunteer work at a school or public library; or reading stories to younger children.

Adult volunteer counselors are often avid readers. Many are associated with libraries, library services, or teaching. All share an interest in helping eager youngsters turn on to reading. Persons interested in serving as counselors may contact local Scout council offices for specific badge requirements and procedures to be followed to become a counselor.

Personnel from many school, public, and church media centers are reading badge counselors. They also serve as counselors to the other library-oriented badge the bookbinding badge.

This badge has been earned by close to 400,000 Scouts since its inception in 1928. Requirements include describing the two main sewing methods of binding books by hand; rebinding a book; or binding four or more issues of a magazine using binder's board and book cloth.

Scouts must also make a scrapbook using a choice of binding methods such as saddle wire-stitching, side wire-stitching, Singer sewing, or Smyth sewing.

Binding badge candidates then select one of two options. They can tour a bindery and report on their visit or write an article of 200 words or more on bookbinding as a careen

Counselors "sell their subjects"

Some counselors in these subjects have been known to contact local Scoutmasters to ask for the opportunity to "set their subjects" at a troop meeting. …

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