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Madison Appleby: Life Lessons at the Library

By Melissa Ebert
Photography By Misty Ezzo

Springfield resident Madison Appleby has spent more hours at her local library than most teenagers have spent at the mall or the movies. Appleby is 16; she start- ed volunteering at the Brentwood Library near Mercy Hospital at the age of 13.

Martha Love of the Brentwood Library says Appleby has logged an impressive 102.5 hours of volunteer time since August 2007.

Appleby says she initially got involved with volunteering because her older sister had also volunteered at the same library. She stuck with it, because of a love for working with young children and organizing.

“The Dewey Decimal System is so cool,” Appleby says.

When Madi first started volunteering at age 13, she wasn’t even able to do some of the volunteer duties such as shelving books because of her young age. The minimum age of the library volunteers is generally 15, but due to Appleby’s enthusiasm and willingness to help out, the library staff found ways to utilize her. She started out working directly with kids, and helped put together a couple projects that she is proud of.

“I did a puppet show for the kids,” she says. “It was based on this book about ducks, and then we also did one about Charlotte’s Web, that was really fun.”

Now that she’s a few years older, Appleby can help with other tasks in the library. Her volunteer hours are filled with re-shelving books, setting up promotional themes, and helping organize and run books sales and other projects for the community.

“I work every week during the summer, and every other week during the winter,” she says. The library isn’t the only place in the Springfield area lucky enough to have Appleby volunteering her time. She also puts in some hours at the Dickerson Park Zoo. She brings some of the safer animals around the zoo for patrons to look at and learn about. Some of the trained animals she interacts with are snakes, guinea pigs, turtles, and two rats named Remy and Stuart.

“We like to give them fun names,” Appleby says.

Appleby got her love for giving back from her family that always encouraged it. Other members of her family have also offered their time to the community. Her sister volunteered at Brentwood Library before she did, and her mother also logged some volunteer hours during her teen years.

“I know my mom helped out at her school in Fair Grove,” Appleby says. “And I know my dad does a lot of stuff too.”

Appleby says her work in the community is important and enriching for many reasons. While she admits that the fact that volunteer hours can beef up college applications and a resume has entered her mind, she says there are much more important reasons why she offers the community her time and talents.

“Since you can start [volunteering] when you are younger, it helps you learn to get a set schedule, plus you’re really helping out the community,” she says. “Also, it’s really cool to see how stuff works behind the scenes. You visit the library and check out books, but you never see how things work behind the scenes.”

Appleby, who is homeschooled, has also found a way to be involved in the community in an outlet other than volunteering.

“I’m talking classes at the art museum,” she says. “They don’t have any classes for my age group, but one of the adult teachers let me in. The teachers there are really nice”

Though Appleby is uncertain about her definite plans for the future, she does know that her continuing studies after high school will include something in the art field. She intends to matriculate to OTC after graduating in 2014. For other teens who want to get into volunteering for whatever reasons they may have, Appleby has some very straight-forward advice.

“All you have to do is ask for an application,” she says. “As long as your heart’s in the work, you can pretty much achieve anything.”