Libraries throughout the country make a concerted effort to reach their local teen audience. By fostering a lifelong love of learning, reading and libraries, our young people are empowered to discover what they may not have found elsewhere, to learn something new and to feel welcomed and appreciated.
How is this accomplished at the library?
First, let’s talk about space. I’m going to admit it’s tough walking over to the teen area and asking adults to leave. In the middle of the day. When no teens are visible. But that is the beauty of a dedicated space for teens. It is theirs. Adults and little kids aren’t supposed to be there. It is one corner of a 42,800-square-foot building they can claim as their own.
Why do we ask adults to leave the space in the middle of the day? Because the mere presence of an adult can turn some teens away. I have seen it with my own eyes! Teens visit the library all day long. Home-schooled teens use the space to browse and study. Teens in school arrive during lunch to pick up a book or after school to meet with friends. Groups meet to work on projects or do homework. By providing a dedicated teen area, we are letting our young people know they are part of our community, with equal access to all our resources and materials.
Programs are another approach to bring teens into the library. At Durango Public Library, we host a variety of events. Every other Wednesday, our team presents “T(w)een Time.” From food programs to arts and crafts and more, teens and tweens ages 11 to 17 years can drop in and try something new. We have also been working on programs geared toward teens in high school. We are finishing our inaugural “Adulting 101” series at 4 p.m. Dec. 14 with a program about Mindfulness (followed by a similar program at 6 p.m. for adults). Teens have a lot of pressure put on them these days, from grades to AP classes to extracurricular activities, and it is taking its toll on them. Here, they will learn techniques to help them ease the stress of their daily lives. I recommend checking our event calendar online or visiting your local library to discover the programs they have to offer.
One of the most significant services we provide to teens and people of all ages is the collection. Our teen collection is developed to be appealing to teens with a variety of interests. Whether you choose fantasy or sci-fi, graphic novels or contemporary fiction, a book is a great way to escape your everyday reality and find solace, comfort or adventure in the life of someone else, real or imagined.
Space, programs and collections are intentionally designed to welcome teens into the library. Check out your local library and see what is offered to this dynamic group of young people, and please feel free to ask us questions about what we have to offer.
Sandy Irwin is library director at Durango Public Library.