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Friends of the Libraries: Make libraries the new teen hangout

When we talk about expanding our public library square footage in Costa Mesa, we need to consider the use to which this extra space might be put. A long underserved age group nationally is teens aged 13 to 18. Teen areas are being created in new and old facilities, often in response to a number of studies that have been done in the past 10 or 15 years. Surveys have shown that young adults are a growing population in libraries. An article by Kimberly Bolan, "The Need for Teen Spaces in Public Libraries," quotes a Harris Poll saying teens would go to the library more often "if there was a space just for teens."

Patrick Jones and Joel Shoemaker apply customer service theory and technique to serving this unique population in their book, "Do It Right! Best Practices for Serving Young Adults in School and Public Libraries." Jones and Shoemaker offer "tips, techniques and examples of how to turn teenagers into 'raving fans' of the public library." They also point out that the Internet, coupled with other changes in society, requires new approaches in marketing.

A 2004 study, by Julie Spielberger, Carol Horton, Robert Halpern and Lisa Michels for Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, is "New on the Shelf: Teens in the Library." It mentions the Public Libraries As Partners in Youth Development (PLPYD) Initiative, a 1999 program designed to "support the development of innovative models for public library systems to provide high quality educational enrichment and career development programs for underserved low-income teenagers and children." Libraries were chosen for this task because they are safe, comfortable and affordable places to do homework, use computers and socialize after school. "In turn, parents, communities, and policymakers increasingly view public libraries as part of a network of supports for youth that includes schools, churches, parks and recreation centers, museums, and youth-serving organizations."

The fourth resource is the "National Teen Space Guidelines" report, created by a task force of the Young Adult Library Services Assn. in 2011-2012. This report is intended as a tool for evaluating a public library's success in providing physical and virtual spaces dedicated to teenagers. One thing I find helpful is a list of libraries that have teen space and the persons responsible for youth services in each library. The fun thing included is a list of the names for these teen spaces! How do you like this list? Studio 270, Club Central, H.Y.P.E. (Helping Young People Excel), Story Lab, YouMedia, Teen Zone, the Teen Spot, Best Cellar and the Edge. I am sure our young people could think of a name that would be interesting?

But I am getting ahead of myself. First, we need to get the expanded space. I hope you are all talking to everyone you know (and some that you don't) to get support for our libraries. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. In the end, it is going to depend on all of us.

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At the Mesa Verde Library

Wednesdays means Legos at 3:30 p.m. at this library. And on Sept. 18, there will be Craft Night at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. is Crafternoon, a special arts and crafts time. Call (714) 546-5274 to learn more about these activities.

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At the Costa Mesa/Donald Dungan Library

A book club will meet Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the volume selected for the month. These can include a variety of titles, classics, nonfiction, fiction and current bestsellers. This time, the book selected is "The Language of Flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. If you have questions, call Samantha at (949) 646-8845.

Every Tuesday afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m. the library brings out its collection of Duplo toys. Children and their families are welcome to join in the play. Sept. 12 and 19 from 2 to 3 p.m. is Family Storytime, with stories, songs and a fun craft at the end.

The Romance Book Club meets the third Wednesday of the month from 2 to 3 p.m. For this and the other book club mentioned above, the book is always available at the checkout desk for the month prior to the meeting.

MARY ELLEN GODDARD produced this column on behalf of the Friends of Costa Mesa Libraries, the Costa Mesa Library Foundation and the three Costa Mesa branches of the OC Public Libraries.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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