Having a resource for education is essential to every community. Schools are probably the first thing you think of, but libraries should jump in your mind simultaneously. Libraries not only provide Internet access, wifi, and countless print resources and electronic databases, but also an active place of learning to anyone of any cultural, religious, or economic background. Teens make up a large part of every community, and by making them feel like welcome members, libraries create life-learners who will contribute more positively in society as a whole.
At my local public library, the Youth Services Librarian recently put on two Study Night programs for middle and high school students of any school. The library remained open till 10 pm where it usually closes at 7:30, admitting exclusively teens and tweens who were in the midst of midterms. Pizza and snacks were provided, along with all the library’s resources including free wifi and reference books.
The program was a huge success because the Youth Services Librarian understood that the point was not to get the teens to study (though we hoped that’s what their goals were) but to get them to study in a safe, productive environment. A small community was created by hosting these study groups where teens knew they can have a welcoming place to work and talk with their peers. Teens in too many towns and cities don’t consider their homes or schools a good place to get work done, or even a place they can feel secure. Struggling students meet with tutors, form study groups of their own, or simply have a place away from loud, disruptive, or sometimes unpleasant homes. Libraries can and do offer themselves as just such a place.
It’s important that all members of the community, including teens, have an environment they feel comfortable and productive in. When schools close at the end of the day, libraries can and do provide just such an environment. Aside from the resources they can use for independent study and research, which are a fantastic asset, libraries create an active learning environment for this group by hosting programs for teens and making them feel welcome when they might not be anywhere else. Support teens and education in your library by take the pledge for American Libraries.
By Courtney Allen. Freelance writer and book hoarder.