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Teens Find Their Own Niche at the Library

Over the past nine weeks, 1,372 teens read 39,056 hours and submitted 875 book reviews to the Express Yourself web site, a portion of the Springfield-Greene County Library’s District’s TeenThing web page specially created for the 2009 Teen Summer Reading Club.

This weekend the library honored our 70 teen volunteers for the incredible amount of time they donated working at various projects and programs around the Library District with the aptly titled “Volun-teen” Banquet. And last weekend, we announced the winners for the third annual TeenTakes Video Contest, a challenge for young adults to produce a library- and literacy-related digital short film.

Each one of these elements on their own is an exciting glimpse at teen activities at the library, but when viewed all together and then combined with what each of the ten branches has to offer young adults—it’s an absolute wow!

“There’s a lot of competition for the attention of teens in our society and at the library we continually look for ways to engage the teen demographic. Our young adult librarians make every effort to make them feel welcome and that they are an integral part of our system,” said Nancee Dahms-Stinson, the library’s youth services coordinator.

“The librarians are at the pulse of where the teens are and what they want. Staying up on young adult interests takes an incredible amount of work and they devote their lives to it, but it’s worth it when we have such a strong showing of teens participating in the Summer Reading Club, regularly attending programs and coming by the branches after school.”

With the school year beginning for many over the next few weeks, it’s important for young adults and parents to know that teens have a welcoming, structured environment in the branches of the Library District where their opinion matters.

The Spot, located on the upper level of the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library, is a prime example. Located across Jefferson Avenue from Central High School, Teen Librarian Bobbi Bushman has a dedicated afterschool crowd who enjoy visiting with their friends, gaming and using library resources for homework or research. 

The branch has the largest graphic novel (comic book) collection in the Library District, and a steady group of teens called the “Anime Alliance” that meets every Wednesday to draw and look at anime and manga. There’s always at least one program, if not two or three, going on everyday in the Spot—whether it’s a movie, arts and crafts or a book club—and many of the programs are teen directed.

“I poll the teens regularly on what materials and activities they’d like to have in the branch and the programs we schedule reflect their interests,” said Bushman. “Young adults are more likely to respond and to bring their friends along when they have a say in what they’re doing and when they are leading the activities.”  

Sarah Jane Rosendahl, copywriter for the Springfield-Greene County Library District, can be reached at

Kathleen O'Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at

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