Library Board Awards First “Innovative” Award to Pratt City Library

(l-r) Antonio Sullivan, Jordan Washington, Deborah Drake Blackmon,
and Khaleb McDonald (Omari Stephens is absent from photo)

A new program at the Pratt City Branch Library that provides career survival tips for teenagers is the first recipient of the Birmingham Public Library Board of Directors’ new "Innovative” grant.

The Pratt City Branch Library Career Survival Kit program was the first recipient, and presented four teenagers from the surrounding community a gift pack during an event held on May 18.

During the program, speakers shared tips on such topics as:

  • Proper preparation for the job search
  • Proper introductions and tips on “The Importance of the Handshake”
  • Tips on first impressions and how attitude and body language can impact a job interview (both good and bad)
  • Appropriate conversations to have on the job
  • Appropriate dress in the workplace
  • The importance of showing integrity at all times and going the extra mile
  • How to lead by being a team player
  • How to give a good interview

The four participants who attended the initial program were all South Hampton School eighth-graders: Khaleb McDonald, Omari Stephens, Antonio Sullivan, and Jordan Washington. The teen boys said they very impressed with the program, adding that it provided knowledge that will pay off as they begin seeking summer jobs.

Each of the boys received a Career Survival Kit that included the following: a bow tie, wallet, belt, personal e-mail address, a resume, business card, a 4 by 6 inch card with questions they can ask interviewers, and a see-through folder.

Deborah Drake Blackmon, branch manager at the Pratt City Library, said she was honored to be the first recipient of the Innovative grant. She said Pratt City Library also plans to present a Career Survival Kit program for teen girls from the community.

At its March 2016 board meeting, the group adopted a recommendation from the Advocacy, Fundraising, and Development Committee to establish an award program for staff designed to encourage them to develop “innovative and cool” public programs to better serve the communities that surround its 19 locations. The award will provide up to two $50 stipends to the 18 branches and the Central Library. The board anticipates the award will help staff improve an existing program or develop a new program for library visitors.

In order to qualify, staff should must submit a brief paragraph or two explaining to the board how they will use the funds. The funds should assist staff in bringing new ideas to the library or provide extra support to existing programs. Submissions are due by the 15th of each month.

The idea for the award was brought to the Advocacy Committee by committee member Gwendolyn Amamoo. A committee reviews the selections and forward their recommendations to the full board for approval. The board anticipates awarding up to $1,900 in new programs between now and December 31, 2016.