Creating a Space for Teens at Your Library

This is your dream:
You want to create an inviting space where teens can come and relax and enjoy the wonderful materials you have collected for them.
This is your reality:
You donít know where to start!

Here are some tips for turning your dream into your reality:

Space:
The space needs to be its own, not part of the children's area and not where adults will be annoyed by any noise. If you donít have a separate room, a corner that can be separated with shelving or seating will work. Expect chatter and plan accordingly.

Furniture:
Comfort and coolness factors highly in making a teen place unique. Include bean bag chairs, butterfly chairs, futons, or oversize chairs for slouching and reading, and a table for writing, school projects, poster making, and game playing. Stools around the table rather than chairs are lighter to move around to the magazines, or to pull together for a chat. Expect things to get moved around and make them easy to move without causing damage. If furniture space is a problem, bean bag chairs can be tossed in a corner when not in use.

Displays:
A bulletin board for contests, holiday displays, summer reading programming, passive programs, pictures, school news, etc is a good focal point to catch the attention of the teens. Change it frequently. Boards can fit on a shelving end cap or a door, if wall space is at a premium. A counter for book displays, promoting new materials is great if you have the room, but a cart can be used for the same purpose in a tight space. Decorate with artwork and posters if you have the wall space. Artwork from local schools could be a free, rotating source.

Materials:
Paperbacks, magazines, comics, graphic novels, nonfiction for fun and school assignments, classics in paperback, hardcover fiction are all necessities. Try to keep in mind teens need resources for their assignments, entertainment, and information about life in general. Shelving materials face out attracts attention to new books or special collections.

Extras:
Posters, Bookmarks, themed booklists, homework tips, internet sites, mail order catalogs, Cliff Notes, encyclopedias that can be checked out, books on tape, computers with internet, CD-ROMs, word processing.

Most of all your library needs a staff person who is approachable, will smile at a teenager, ask if they are finding what they need, and work as hard for them as any other patron. May these tips help your dream come true!

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©2012, 2001. RoseMary Honnold.