By Kim Walter
Jeremiah Hines takes volunteering seriously, especially since his experience could lead to a future career.
Hines, 18, just graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School. Last month, during a Shenandoah County School Board meeting, he was recognized as the 2012-2013 Student Volunteer of the Year.
After volunteering at the county's public libraries for a year, Hines thought the he might like to try helping out at school libraries on the southern campus. The majority of his work was done last summer, but he also took a class during his senior year that allowed him to volunteer at libraries in North Fork Middle School and Ashby Lee Elementary School during the school year.
During his time at the libraries, Hines had a variety of duties including shelving, leading story time, working on book displays, implementing inventory and even working the circulation desk. He logged about 120 hours of volunteering during this school year alone.
Hines admitted that he actually hated reading during his early childhood. However, while in fifth grade, his teacher gave him "The Hatchet," which quickly changed his outlook.
"I guess up until then I looked at reading as boring work," he said. "But I had a teacher who didn't want me to enter middle school hating it, so she found something she thought I'd like. I've been hooked ever since."
Hines began visiting the county libraries more for their larger selection. He enjoys fantasy genre books, and said the Harry Potter series is his all-time favorite.
"That is one series that made me cry," he said, laughing. "But that's the great thing about books ... they take me somewhere I've never been before."
Hines is busy with work this summer, and is unable to volunteer at the library. He admitted that he misses it, but knows he has to save up before he heads to Eastern Mennonite University in August.
There, Hines plans to major in math education - but not so he can teach math.
The university doesn't have a library science program, so Hines decided to at least graduate with a teaching license. From there, he plans to get his masters in library science using an online program. Through a work study program, Hines will also be able to work at EMU's library, adding to his experience.
After all is said and done, Hines wants to come back to Shenandoah County and work in one of the school libraries.
"This is my home, this is where I grew up," he said. "It'd be great if I could work at Ashby Lee, my alma mater. Plus the younger kids still have a love for their school library."
Hines said he's enjoyed watching young students learn to love reading over the past school year. He said he knows the importance of reading at such a young age, since literacy impacts so many other subjects and life skills.
Even though he "gets" the growing popularity of e-readers, Hines said he isn't a personal fan.
"I understand why the county libraries are trying to use them more ... people love their technology," he said. "But I'll always prefer an actual book. You can't beat it."
Hines said by the time he's a librarian, he's not sure how the industry will have evolved. He said he recently read about a new underground library system at Liberty University, which allows a library visitor to type in the book they want, so a large machine can find it and make it available.
Hines said it seems "like a huge vending machine."
"One thing I love about the library experience is searching for a new book," he said. "Sometimes you walk in not knowing what you're looking for, but you'll find it. How can a machine do all that for you?"
Hines said in the future, he'll make sure his library stays as traditional as possible.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or email@example.com