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Teens Voices Heard at Libraries

New York Times bestselling young-adult books author of “Shiver,” Maggie Stiefvater, recently held a group of teens spellbound at the Library Center. They had a live chat with her via Skype.

With the aid of laptop webcams and a projector, Stiefvater could see the room of teens and the teens could see Stiefvater in her rural Virginia home as they asked questions about the inspiration for her popular books including “Lament” and “Ballad.”

“They were excited to meet an author and actually be able to ask questions about writing,” says Sarah Bean Thompson, Library Center youth services associate.

Sarah and other youth services librarians hope to add more such chats with popular young-adult authors.

It’s one of the many ways staff at all 10 branches of the Springfield-Greene County Library District are reaching out to ‘tweens and teens in weekly programs. The events are listed in Bookends, the district’s free catalog of programs available at every branch and online at

Various branches have a range of teen book discussion clubs, gaming days, teen night after-hours events, anime otaku clubs, movies and craft programs.

Most branches also have teen advisory boards that guide the library on collections to add and programs they’d like to see at their branches. The boards are open to any interested teen, there’s no strict commitment and snacks are usually served.

You can see the influence of the Midtown Carnegie Branch Teen Advisory Board in the library’s teen department, called The Spot.

Staff chose a bulletin board there and dubbed it “Spotlight.” Teens are encouraged to sign up to display their art for two-week periods. Youth Services Associate DJ Reece created it in response to feedback from Midtown’s Teen Advisory Board.

“Teens love it and we already have a long waiting list of aspiring teen artists,” says Bobby Bushman, Midtown’s Youth Services Department Manager.

“I love that they have the space to do this,” says Nancee Dahms-Stinson, the district’s youth services coordinator. “One of the most important developmental assets libraries can provide for teens is the means for self-expression and creativity.

“Teens who may not have a more formal outlet such as the school can still showcase their creativity at Midtown,” she said.

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

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