As I walk by the Main Library Teen area on a typical weekday after school I am never sure what I might encounter. Did all the adults reading this blog just now picture out of control teens yelling, running around, and throwing things at each other?
It's possible that's happened somewhere before, but on most days I just see teens using the computers for homework, social media, games, and just hanging out with friends. A group of teens might be playing a game of checkers, while others are making use of the Wi-Fi, or coloring a Pokémon coloring sheet. There might be someone browsing for the latest volume of their favorite manga series like One Punch Man or trying to find a copy of Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children on the shelf since the movie will be released on September 30.
Sometimes it’s quiet and other times it is a little more animated. I might see familiar faces as I walk by and I'll ask them about their day. I say hello to the teens I’ve never met. This is my favorite time of day for a number of reasons.
We talk about books.
According to a 2012 study by Pew Internet Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits, 83% of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year. Some 75% read a print book, 19% read an e-book, and 11% listened to an audiobook. Scholastic "Kids and Family Reading Report” from 2014 found that 51% of those ages 6-17 are reading a book for fun. If you start the conversation, teens will tell you all about the books they are reading. I've had several books even recommended to me by teens recently including Everland by Wendy Spinale, which happens to be a Peter Pan retelling with a steampunk twist. The Peter Pan story never gets old to me and so it's one of the books on my winter reading list.
We talk about the future.
According to Young Adult Library Services Assocation, Teens Need Libraries, a library can provide key services to teens such as workforce development and digital literacy. Again in the Pew Internet study, high schoolers were also most likely to have used the library for research purposes as 55% used the library for research in the past year, compared with 40% of all Americans. In the past few months I've helped a teen fill out a job application and shown them good ways to search for jobs. An 8th grader recently asked for information about several careers since they needed to start thinking about their future career and wanted more information. I was able to find information from our Careers Database and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, among other resources, and I've told several teens interested in video and music editing about our digital lab, Studio 304.
We give them experiences.
I've had several teen volunteers over the past few years. I am lucky to have an amazing group and even if it's just an hour a week after school this can help so much. This summer they helped us with children's programs and gaming, and they keep the shelves in the teen area organized and looking great. Volunteering teens learn how to work independently and follow instructions, and those basic skills like being on-time for their volunteer shifts will come in handy when they land their first job.
We have fun.
We offer programs to people of all ages including teens and have some exciting things coming up like gaming this Saturday, September 17 at Centre Township and Main Library, and don't forget board games at River Park. Also at the Main Library there is a Teen LEGO Challenge on Monday, September 19 at 5:00 p.m. to see who can build the largest standing tower that will hold a series of books. Don't forget about next month with After School Club at Centre Towhship on October 6 or the Evening of Awesome Teen Lock-In on Friday, October 14 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. At this special after-hours event we will celebrate one of Indiana's most famous authors, John Green, with games, trivia, giveaways, and did I mention pizza! YA Author Amy Tintera (Reboot, Rebel, and Ruined) will be visiting with an interview style presentation and will answer your questions with a book singing to follow!
With so many things to read, computers, and space to hang out or do homework, come get in the Teen Zone at Main or visit the teen space at your favorite library location to find out what's new for teens.