Teaming up for the library -- Teen area

Young people will get their own section, focusing on science fiction.

Sharon Snyder points to the formal table and chairs in the Bainbridge Library’s science fiction corner that will give way to cushions and an area rug to create a teen space.

She’s hoping a lot of teens will show up today at 1 p.m. to help move books and new furnishings that will define the space.

“On Bainbridge, we serve the young well and grown-ups well, but up to this point, we haven’t had a defined place for teens at the library,” said Snyder, the staff young people’s librarian. “So we’re hoping that (teen space) bridges that gap.

“When you have a positive thing, it helps the staff, they have something to show teens. We haven’t welcomed you (teens) yet, we want to welcome you now.”

Snyder says the idea of proactively welcoming teens to the library is a nationwide trend among libraries.

The Kitsap Regional Library system is putting out the welcome mat for youths. The age group is traditionally underserved and are “lost” to the libraries, only resurfacing as adults, says Lynn Stone, young people’s librarian and teen services coordinator at the KRL’s Sylvan Way branch

Bainbridge is one of five branches – along with Little Boston, Manchester, Poulsbo and Port Orchard – making welcoming spaces for teens.

A spring questionnaire to Bainbridge youths garnered 45 responses, with 14 expressing interest in serving on a Teen Advisory Council to the library.

To the question “What kinds of things would you like to see in the library?” top replies were comfy furniture, music, magazines, lots of paperbacks and computers.

“The great part is we already have four out of five of these,” Snyder said.

The “comfy furniture” is being taken care of by a $400 grant from the Kitsap Regional Library Foundation, to buy firm, colorful floor cushions in generous squares and a lime green, Oscar-the-Grouch faux-fur area rug.

Wednesday’s agenda is to form teen committees to create a code of conduct for the space, name it and plan fund-raising for an eventual glassed “structure within a structure” for youths.

Soundproofing glass walls will let users play music in the structure while relaxing on cushions and working at a coffee table. A bistro-height counter with computers will look out onto the stacks, while chest-height bookcases circle the structure with young adult books.

From her past experience in King County, Snyder knows a defined space works. The Lake Hills Library in East Bellevue was the nexus of three schools and “overrun” by kids after school. A pilot program provided funding for a soundproof glass structure with computers for teens.

“The change was really significant,” Snyder said, recalling one student who was overwhelmed that anyone would spend so much money on youths. For adults, the main library area became more comfortable for older patrons or researchers.

Getting the physical structure for Bainbridge’s teen section in will depend on fund-raising, but the library board – which includes two members of the Teen Advisory Council – will match funds. Friends of the Library is also said to be interested.

“The board doesn’t want it to take forever. They were enthusiastic supporters of this when I presented it (to them) in early September,” Snyder said.

Having the Teen Advisory Council, which started meeting monthly from June, has helped Snyder in coming up with programming.

“I don’t want to do programs teens aren’t interested in,” Snyder said. “I see the Teen Advisory Council as my reality check, the voice of what is really interesting to teens, not what I think is interesting to teens.”

* * * * *

Teens n’ tomes

All teens ages 12-19 are welcomed to the Teen Advisory Council meeting today from 1-2:15 p.m. to help move furnishings and create a teen space as well as plan for future events and fund-raising.

Creation of a teen book club for fantasy and science fiction resulted from questionnaire results where teens expressed interest in a book club, and picked fantasy and science fiction as the top genre.

The new group “Pizza and Books” will meet from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Bainbridge library to discuss “The Seeing Stone” by Kevin Crossley-Holland.

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