Junior librarians rewarded at Pratt Public Library

Fran Brownell
Special to the Tribune
Pratt Public Library Director Eric Killough is pictured with 2019 Junior Librarian of the Year Daniel Rhone, left, 2020 Library Achievement Award recipient Sidney Freeman and 2020 Junior Librarian of the Year Award winner Gabriel Heredia.

Pratt Public Library Director Eric Killough likes to bring out the talents of Gen-Zers, particularly the ones of elementary age, and has found a way to do this by giving them opportunity to serve in the roll of junior librarians.

Early in his two-year tenure, Killough created slots to provide leadership opportunities and awards to recognize service.

“We’ve got some great kids in Pratt and a lot of them are regulars at the library,” Killough said. “I wanted to give them opportunity to shine—and that’s what they do!”

Daniel Rhone, now 11, was a pioneer in Killough’s new venture and was recognized for his service as recipient of the 2019 Junior Librarian of the Year Award.

Following in Rhone’s footsteps, 12-year-old Gabriel Heredia was named 2020 Junior Librarian of the Year and seven-year-old Sidney Freeman was honored with the 2020 Library Achievement Award.

Killough assigns tasks to the trio and to other children who serve as assistants that include helping at the circulation desk with checking books in and out and sending faxes.

“They also answer the phone, make copies, help with shredding, run the popcorn machine, serve hot chocolate and give out apples and carrots,” Killough said.

Sidney said she likes all the tasks she’s assigned.

“It’s fun,” said Sidney, daughter of Chris and Lynette Freeman. “I might want to be a librarian.”

Gabriel, who is fluent in both Spanish and English, serves as translator, when needed.

“Gabriel does a fantastic job,” Killough said. “He’s also taken charge of our annual book sale and this year we had our highest sales total.”

Gabriel also accompanies Killough to city and county meetings when library issues are on the agenda.

“He sits right there with me and takes it all in,” said Killough. “He’s an entrepreneur, too, running his own lawn-mowing business, following in the footsteps of his dad who runs Compass Irrigator Repair.”

“These are great kids with great families,” Killough said. “They are on the track to succeed in whatever they do.”