If you haven’t seen the recent press conference announcing the 2021 North Carolina Children’s Book Award (NCCBA) winners, you have to go check it out. Right. Now.
From the Libraries to Election Services to Communications & Public Engagement (CAPE), the entire project was a fun way to think outside the box when it comes to educating young people about the voting process. “It all started last fall when we began working with the Educated & Capable Community Focus Group for the strategic plan,” recalls Buncombe County Public Libraries (BCPL) Youth Services Supervisor Sarah Gransee. “Election Services Director Corinne Duncan mentioned in a meeting that Election Services hoped to further engage young people in the election process, and that got my wheels turning.”
The NCCBA program is a children’s choice program sponsored by school and public librarians. The program aims to introduce young people to current children’s books and to instill a love of reading. For years, BCPL has participated in various ways. This year, the Youth Services team thought it would be fun to get actual voting booths in the libraries for kids to use.
Following a meeting of the minds with BCPL and Election Services, seven libraries acted as official polling precincts by providing voting booths and ballot boxes for kids to vote. Any kid could vote “absentee” by turning in their ballot at any branch.
“As we planned the voting season, I thought it would be extra exciting to offer a press conference to announce the winners,” says Sarah. “Since I've been watching the Public Health Community Update press conferences for over a year now, the official press conference room came to mind!”
“We collaborated with the CAPE team to use the press conference set, and I want to give a thousand thanks to Max Taintor for keeping it set up an extra week,” says Sarah. Several BCPL Youth Services Specialists worked on the script for the award winner’s announcement and press conference skit. Library Specialists Peter Athos and Tye Anderson wrote and directed the video, and Library Specialists Jen Burger and Kassandra Cumming helped make it sparkle by crafting some of the jokes. Election Specialist Kaylea Noce and Election Services Director Corinne Duncan reviewed the proposed script to make sure the facts were correct about the voting process, and then Kaylea came to the press conference as the official spokesperson.
Fun Fact: Kaylea actually got her start at Buncombe County several years ago as a library page at Oakley Library, and the library team loved working with her again. Besides using the teleprompter for her part as the Election Services representative, Kaylea also ducked behind the table to work with some of the puppet reporters.
Want to know more about NCCBA? BCPL owns copies of all the 2021 nominees, as well as this year's winners so make sure to stop by and check them out with your kids.