Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Library shifts its attention from rowdy to well-behaved teenagers

LONGMONT — Being good has its benefits.

Since April of last year, the Longmont Public Library’s “Radically Good Behavior Raffle” has issued raffle tickets to kids at the library who demonstrate exceptional behavior.

At the end of the month, 10 winning tickets are drawn and 10 kids receive $10 coupons to movie theaters, bookstores, restaurants, swimming pools or ice cream shops.

“This rewards the good kids and explains what they did to the bad kids so they see how they can change,” said Sasha Brannigan, 12, whose quiet studying won her a quesadilla last summer.

Library staff say they’ve noticed a significant decrease in rowdy behavior since the raffles started, in part because their focus has shifted away from the disruptive teens who previously monopolized their attention.

“It’s good for the kids who are ignored for always behaving well and for the kids who don’t always behave well but are in a given moment,” said librarian Margaret Hyatt.

Librarian Ruth McMillen came up with the raffle idea for middle- and high school-age library users in Longmont. The Friends of the Longmont Public Library volunteer group spends $100 a month to fund the program.

“Parents have been really pleased. Some don’t (usually) get phone calls from people praising their kids,” McMillen said.

Taylor Varnau, a 16-year-old sophomore at Longmont High School, visits the library three times a week and has won two good-behavior raffles.

“I thought I was in trouble at first. (The ticket) says ‘You’ve been caught,’” Varnau said. “At school, I’m not noticed because I’m quiet.”

Ben Ready can be reached at 303-684-5326, or by e-mail at

Jesse Horner is an aspiring journalist and an eighth-grader at Mead Middle School.

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