Merit Badge Pamphlet Libraries
Food for Thought
Without a doubt, despite all the resources available to Scouts through MeritBadge.net and other Internet resources, using merit badge pamphlets is still one of the easiest and most efficient ways of getting help on merit badges. After all, they were written specifically with merit badges in mind.
Unfortunately, merit badge pamphlets cost money, around $400 for an entire set, and many troops no longer have merit badge pamphlet libraries. Of those troops that do have libraries, many pamphlets are out of date (see below). Most troops feel they simply can't afford to maintain an up to date merit badge pamphlet library...
Stop looking at that big dollar amount for all those merit badges and break it down into something more manageable. Here is a simple method that will get you a full library of up to date books in a short period of time.
- 1. Check to see which merit badges are current and which ones are out of date using the Current Merit Badge Pamphlet Revision Dates chart.
- 2. Make a list of all out of date and missing pamphlets.
- 3. Prioritize your list as follows:
- a. popular merit badges (this is different for different troops but will generally include most Eagle merit badges, merit badges that the troop will be working on during the year, and various others)
- b. most recent revision dates
- c. older revision dates
- 4. Decide how much you can spend each month and purchase new merit badge pamphlets off of your list. I recommend 3 or 4 each month ($10-$15/month).
Steps 1, 2, and 3 are there simply to make your investment as productive as possible right from the start. These steps could be skipped. In fact, you could just start at American Business and work your way through to Woodwork in alphabetical order.
Step 4, however, is extremely important. You need to pick a workable number and commit to making this purchase every month. Three or four pamphlets was chosen because most troops should be able to scrape up enough money or aluminum cans or whatever to be able to afford this. The results of using this program are as follows:
- Purchasing 3 pamphlets per month = a complete library in four years
- Purchasing 4 pamphlets per month = a complete library in three years
Now get started! Merit badge pamphlets can significantly improve your troop's advancement program. The trail to Eagle has many bumps and turns. Don't let the lack of merit badge pamphlets be one of them.
One last thought on this plan. It's based on the median size troop (20 Scouts). If your troop is significantly larger, the plan should be adjusted accordingly. For instance, a troop of 100 Scouts who needs several copies of pamphlets for more commonly done merit badges might want to get at least 10 each month ($30 or so).
More Library Building Ideas
The above method is a way for troops to help themselves. The following is a way for Scouts to help the troop.
Along the way, every Scout buys a few merit badge pamphlets. There are millions of merit badge pamphlets sitting on shelves collecting dust or packed away in boxes. Why? What use is this? None!!! Why aren't the Scouts giving these books to the troop? Probably because nobody asked.
Encourage your Scouts to purchase merit badge pamphlets that your troop library doesn't have (or really needs multiple copies of) THEN encourage them to give their books to the troop so others can use them. They'll do better on their merit badge by having an excellent resource and the troop will benefit as well AND since your going to the Scout Shop once a month to buy four merit pamphlets as part of your library building plan, it's no problem to pick up a few extra pamphlets for your Scouts.
Don't Forget the Public Library
So now your troop has a great library and you don't need any more pamphlets. Congratulations! You now have a troop that has a leg up on advancement and the trail to Eagle. What now?
Give 3 to 4 merit badge pamphlets a month to your local library...
"What?" "Why?" The reasons are many. Here are a few.
- Public libraries are open nearly every day. This gives Scouts quicker access to the information they need even if they didn't know they needed it.
- The information is available to the Scouts in other troops as well. Since most public libraries are part of a regional library system, the number of troops benefiting from your donations can be significant.
- Boys who aren't Scouts may join your troop after finding interesting subjects in the pamphlets you've donated.
- Others will benefit from the information in the pamphlets and public opinion of Scouting should improve with this type of exposure. (An employee at my plant saw an Electricity merit badge pamphlet sitting on my desk. He asked to borrow it and was very impressed upon reading it.)
- The library handles the hassle of checking the books out.
This last point is very important. Some troops don't have libraries because the don't want the hassle of checking books in and out. Well, your local library is very good at that so why not let them do it. And please don't feel like you're abusing your library's services. They want new patrons so they benefit as well.
What Should I Do With These Old Pamphlets?
Whatever you do, don't throw away those old merit badge pamphlets. They can be valuable resources. In order to avoid confusion, you should do three things:
- 1. Have a library identified as "Current Books and Pamphlets"
- 2. Have a separate library marked "Older Resources"
- 3. Tell your Scouts to always use the latest version of "Boy Scout Requirements" (#33215) as their resource for advancement requirements
Once again, this last point is very important. Merit badge requirements are revised more often than the pamphlets themselves. Chances are the requirements listed in a "current" merit badge pamphlet only a few years old will already be out of date. All Scoutmasters should pick up a new copy of "Boy Scout Requirements" each January.
If you are seriously overstocked with old merit badge books and other advancement materials, read MeritBadgeDotOrg:Site support for information on how to put them to further use.