Junior Service League volunteers step in at Truman Library

By Mike Genet
The Examiner

While the Truman Presidential Library and Museum reopens Friday, the National Archives has not yet called back the full federal workforce for the site, including those who would normally serve as greeters and ushers.  

Enter the Junior Service League of Independence to fill that need. 

Harry Truman in 1957 with the first docents of the Truman Library, volunteers from the Junior Service League of Independence.

Members of the nonprofit have volunteered to help at the renovated Truman Library for the first few weeks, and they jumped at the opportunity. 

Independence Mayor Eileen Weir had called to inform them about the volunteer possibility, JSL President Cindy Pritchard said, and “Everybody was all gung-ho about it.” Museum Director Kurt Graham later affirmed that need and opportunity, and 17 days’ worth of time slots went quickly. 

 “We got all the slots filled within 24 hours,” Pritchard said. “Everyone wanted to do that. We’ll be greeting, taking tickets, directing people which way to go.” 

“Some of the lades that didn’t get in, they’re going to go up and with their friends and help greet.” 

It’s a full-circle moment for the Junior Service League. When the Truman Library first opened in 1957, the JSL oversaw the volunteer docent program. Docents are often volunteer guides at museums and similar sites.  

The Junior Service League, created to provide chances for women to contribute in the community through volunteer service or financial support, had been slated to have its 75th anniversary gala last year, with the Truman Library as benefactor, as the library would have reopened last fall if not for the pandemic. 

“We didn’t get to do our big gala, but we still raised $25,000 and gave it to Truman Library,” Pritchard said. 

For the time being, the library will be open five days a week: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Pritchard said JSL volunteers will help either mornings or afternoons, and she’s among those signed up for Sunday afternoon, July 4.  

“There’s a lot of people that wanted to do this and help out the city,” Pritchard said. “Everybody’s excited about it.” 

Tickets went on sale Monday morning, and like the volunteer slots they have gone quickly. Similar to other presidential libraries that have reopened, the Truman Library is limiting tickets to help maintain social distancing amid the pandemic, and only a handful of tickets remained for the weekend as of mid-day Tuesday.

Tickets for the Truman Library are available online only at TrumanLibrary.gov. They are $12 each for general admission, $10 for seniors 62 and older and veterans/military, $8 for college students (with ID) and $5 for children age 13-18. Children 12-younger are free.