A newly enclosed area gives young readers their own turf.
The adult chairs upstairs were too hard and the kids’ chairs downstairs were too small, but now there’s a place for teens that’s “just rightâ€ at the Bainbridge library.
Ten-year-old Audrey Covert used to read sitting on the floor by the juvenile collection downstairs, or more often just go home with her books.
But with the new cubbyhole for teens, Covert says she’s more likely to stay and read.
“The teen space is even more relaxed and comfy, and you meet kids your own age,â€ Covert said.
Today, an area that had been defined by a coffee table and cushions in the library’s young adult section will take a quantum step forward and become a room with a view.
The public is invited to step into the new Teen Scene – a clean, sleek wood-and-glass structure framed by trellis-like eaves on the library’s main floor – in an open house from 3-6 p.m.
Members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms will mingle with guests – who are encouraged to dress as knights and ladies – to promote the medieval theme of the library’s summer reading program, which runs through Aug. 31.
In the Teen Scene, the coffee table, cushions, games and books will be joined by a bistro-height counter with computers looking out to the biography section, but all enclosed by sound-tempered glass. The structure can be dismantled and reassembled in case it ever needs to be moved.
Sharon Snyder, the Young People’s librarian, said teens used to prefer hanging out downstairs, but young teens would be scrunched into kindergarten-size chairs with their knees up to their chins.
The new space with “comfy furnitureâ€ – the number one request from the library’s survey of teens last spring – is a better fit.
“We made (the teen space) and the teens came in the afternoon and evening,â€ Snyder said. “There were noticeably more (readers). There’d be all these kids we’d never seen before.â€
The genesis of the space came from Kitsap Regional Library’s efforts to reach out to teens last year. After the spring survey, a Teen Advisory Group was formed in June.
With seed money from the KRL Foundation, Snyder and the TAG developed and set up the teen space in September.
Now comes a full enclosure, designed by teens, who selected the wall color and placement of the new bookshelves – outside, to maximize space inside.
Fourteen-year-old Julie Tamanini, a member of TAG, has always spent a lot of time at the library even though she lives nearby, because she loves being around books and seeing familiar librarians and her friends.
“We are really independent people,â€ Tamanini said of her age group. “We have a good sense of space, which is why we want our own rooms (at home). Having our own area (at the library) is more comfortable because it’s cut off from the adults. It’s an individual area which is ours, where we can be.â€
Snyder says the area has been especially successful attracting young teens and pre-teens, who flock to the area after school.
“There was more of a response than we would have hoped for,â€ Snyder said. “The reference librarian would call down to me and say, ‘Sharon, I can’t believe it, you’ve got to come see this.’â€
Snyder had expected to raise funds for the $20,000 enclosure over a period of a few years, but the plan gained urgency after last summer’s tragic car accident involving local teenagers.
When she presented the library board and Friends of the Library with plans developed by Salisbury Timberbuilt, the response was “let’s do this now.â€
Ann Lovejoy, president of the library board, said last summer’s tragedy was only one reason the board supported the idea.
“We wanted to make a welcoming space for teens to feel relaxed and comfortable in a safe place, without making older patrons feel uncomfortable,â€ she said. “The library is heavily used by young kids and their parents and grandparents, but there was a gap with young people.
“We want to make sure they feel really welcome.â€
Friends of the Library was also happy to provide matching funds up to $10,000.
Rounding out the furnishings are a shaggy white rug and a ceramic sculpture by island artist Jenny Andersen. Three bar stools for the bistro-height counter are still sought.
“This space lets teens be teens after school, working on projects, and on computers, but still have a quiet area in the library,â€ Snyder said.