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Investing in teens is good for libraries, communities

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 12:39 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, May 16, 2013 12:47 p.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
Beth Kirchenberg is the teen services librarian at the Westchester Public Library.

We’ve all been teenagers; yet, once we reach a certain stage of adulthood, we seem to be unable to remember what it was like to be younger. 

We sometimes struggle to understand or relate to these gangly or graceful, loud or quiet, brash or thoughtful, trendy or traditional, funny or humorless, pack-animal or isolationist (sometimes all within a matter of moments, it seems) people call teenagers. The Westchester Public Library is committed to organizing and providing information and recreational reading resources for all our customers. Traditionally, libraries have invested most heavily in services to children and adults. It’s time for that to change. Investing in young adult services isn’t just good for teens; it’s good for our libraries and communities.  

Why focus on teens in the library? Teens are an important part of our community, and the library has a responsibility to address their needs. Teens are not quite children, and they are not quite adults. They have unique needs and interests, and teens need adult guides who understand and respect them. Investing in young adult services isn’t just good for teens; it’s good for the library. Teens are our future – future voters, taxpayers, parents and library users. Keeping teens safe and engaged during out-of-school hours is a major community issue, and the library is part of the solution. We offer more resources and recreation opportunities than bookstores – and we’re not trying to make a profit. Teens turn to the library for more than information; they attend programs, volunteer, play games and meet friends.  

The Westchester Public Library recently has developed a separate teen collection to better serve the community’s needs. We have formed a Teen Advisory Group that meets the last Wednesday of every month to discuss future development, programs and activities. This summer, we will hold a teen reading program with prizes including a Kindle e-reader and an iPod. Summer programming includes Retro Teen Movie Nights, Xbox Days, Zentangle, Sharpie Tie Dye and more. 

Come check out our new teen department on the second floor.

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