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Heather Booth: Listening is an act of love

They say, “Listening is an act of love.” 

When we listen to each other, we create a safe space, a connection, trust and respect. This philosophy is at the core of Teen Services Department at Thomas Ford Memorial Library.  

We listen when teens ask, sometimes warily, if we can suggest a good book. We love helping connect them with reading that is enjoyable and serves their varied interests: paranormal romances, steampunk epics or page-turning adventures. We shape our collection by listening to the pulse of local teen reading interests. 

We also give them a voice on our board of trustees. Alaina Kafkes, a senior at Lyons Township High School, has served as the teen representative on the board since 2010. We are now seeking a successor as she departs for college.

We also look to trends in teen culture: we connect to teens where they are, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or our cozy Teen Lounge. We have held programs based on Angry Birds, “The Hunger Games,” Minecraft and memes. On April 19, at our teen open-mic night in Café Ford, we will listen as teens show off their many talents in a laid-back, after-hours setting.

We also give teens a voice in our community — and even nationally. This June, we’ll take local teens to the Best Fiction for Young Adults session of the American Library Association Conference in Chicago.

What’s next for teens at the Thomas Ford Library? You tell us!  We’ll be listening.

Heather Booth is the teen services librarian at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

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