Pre-teens and teens have a lot on their minds—and visiting a public library may not be the highest priority when kids hit puberty.
“We take that as a challenge,” said Nancee Dahms-Stinson, coordinator of youth services at the Springfield-Greene County Library District.
“We know we have to work at keeping teens interested in coming to the library. We have librarians at each branch who target the teen demographic and work with our young adult patrons to suggest books and other materials they might like and plan programs of special interest to them.”
Each of the eight branch libraries have upped their choice of programs designed for those in grades 6 through 12. Game and film nights, Teen Library Council meetings, photography classes, t-shirt art—these are some of the offerings for the next semester.
Another favorite, Teen Night After Hours, initially only offered at the Library Center, has now been expanded to include similar events at the Brentwood, Fair Grove, Midtown Carnegie and Willard Branches and the Library Station.
Usually held on Friday nights after the libraries have closed for the evening, the teen nights offer games, music, crafts, Internet access, prizes, movies, snacks, and, most importantly, a time away from the parents. The kids can’t leave until the official closing time unless a parent or guardian picks them up, but the events are always staffed by several hip librarians.
Go online at thelibrary.org, call the branch library or pick up a copy of “Bookends,” the library’s calendar of events, at any branch for times and dates for the after-hour teen events and other programs.
It’s also a fact that teens need their own spaces, which is why the Library Center was designed with a super-cool teen department. Other branches have teen areas, but two branches in the past few months have had makeovers to allow for special teen departments.
The Spot, a newly refurbished teen reading room on the second floor of the Midtown Carnegie Branch, is spacious and airy, bright from the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows in the more than 100-year-old library. It’s a venerable, historic building that comes alive every school afternoon with the chatter of teens reading books, playing video games, surfing the Internet and doing their homework.
The Republic Branch Library has never had a full-fledged teen department; now, they do. Called Teen Space, it was designed by the teen patrons and filled with shelves of books and lots of audio and video materials.
Both these makeovers were accomplished by federal Library Services and Technology Act grants administered by the Missouri State Library, Office of the Secretary of State.