The library staff and I are excited about the growth and expansion of our services to teens. We are opening the Teen Nook on the main floor of the library. Keeping our teens engaged and involved in the library builds habits of reading, community participation, and personal growth.
Our approach has been to develop a Maker Space that actively invites instead of passive consumption. We want our teens to be creative using video, audio, and images telling stories of their own and recording the stories of family and friends. The teens can express this artistically using technology to grow skills. The teen is making materials meant to be shared on social media as well as with their friends and family or for school work.
We researched, visited other libraries, talked to our local schools, and listened to our teens. Ideas abounded! We did not want to duplicate what was happening in the schools. We wanted to enhance and we wanted to support STEAM initiatives (Science Technology Engineering, Art, Math). The library buzz words are Maker Spaces but it is our Teen Nook. The Library’s maker space is digital creativity.
Teens can create plays, describe processes, develop poetry, and write stories. As they work with the equipment, they gain media skills in recording, editing, and sound management. Additionally, as they listen and watch their creation they can edit, learning the art of fine tuning their message. They gain public speaking and writing skills. In the end they have a product that belongs to them and they can share as they desire.
We set aside library space to create the Teen Nook and recording studio. If you are familiar with National Public Radio Story Corps (https://storycorps.org/partner/npr/), our young patrons can similarly share an event and tell about people and family. The library can preserve these and with the teen’s permission share them from the library’s web page. The viewer/listener learns about our community, facets of our local history and culture while celebrating our teens’ abilities. This maker space compliments our teens’ education. Just as students use computers in the classroom, they have another avenue to develop, grow, and mature their technology skills with the library.
The Friends of the Library, other Foundation resources, library funds and other gifts have provided the funding for the furnishings and equipment. In need of refurbishing, library funds were used over the past three years to provide patron friendly furniture. In the past year, technology friendly furniture was added in the proposed Teen Nook giving appropriate work surfaces for the maker spaces. There has been a deliberate addition of gaming console, comics, and young adult collections. Equipment was purchased to support digital creativity. Our staff trained to tutor and guide the teens through the technology side of the creative process. (It is our bet the teens are teaching us before too much time has passed). Ultimately, our hope is to provide the tools to inspire young people to pursue new avenues in their learning.
We partnered with Neelyville and Poplar Bluff schools’ art programs. We asked the teens to create artwork to display in the Teen Nook. This will be on display soon. We are already inspired by the creativity of these art pieces. They reflect “The Future of the Book.”
I invite you to the library’s grand opening for the Teen Nook at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 11. Join us to see all there is to offer and be a part of the library life of our teens.
<i>Written collaboratively with Belinda Birrer, Children and Youth Services Librarian. Sue Crites Szostak has been the director of the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library since 2013. She got her first library card at the Poplar Bluff library and did her internship there as well. She has worked in libraries for 43 years. Contact her at: email@example.com .</i>