Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Community library reaches out to teens

New young-adult area sets stage for enhanced teen-focused programs

Express Staff Writer

The Community Library has boosted programming for adults, making the Ketchum facility a busy place on many weekday evenings. Kids, too, can be found at the library, scampering around the large children's section. The age group in between, however, has been included in the mix but sometimes lost in the shuffle.

The library recently debuted a new section for young adults, with an open house on Thursday, April 12, that showed teens what the library has to offer them while inviting them to help shape those offerings.

"Thanks to our hard-working staff, especially Young Adult Librarian Erich von Tagen, the new young adult room is repainted, remodeled and open for young adults and teens to use," said interim Executive Director Colleen Crain. "Many of our patrons begin their library experience in our children's library, and we want to help them continue their library journey through the exciting teen years as well."

Staff used the momentum of the wildly popular Hunger Games movie to plan activities that tied in with the film as a way to launch the new room and the teen programming that will evolve with it.

They repurposed the audio-visual room as a dual A/V and teen area.

Von Tagen and others championed the effort, giving new life to an underused space.

"This is a spot in the library where we can reach out to them," von Tagen said. "We really want to engage teens. That's part of the goal of the open house. Get them to be involved. Kids can decide how the programming can evolve."

While the library already had a section of books for young adults, its space was small and didn't provide opportunity to create activities for that group.


"We wanted to make sure we had room to grow," von Tagen said in an interview. "With that comes a refocusing of our efforts to that age group."

The library currently is searching for a permanent children's librarian, who will help formulate the young adult programming.

"We want to maintain relevancy for [teens] and instill in them that the library is ... a place for learning, a place to find books, a place to find oneself," von Tagen said. "It's always based on a foundation of literature and books. That's where we're keeping anchored."

The library might have to redouble its efforts to convince Kai Younger, 11, of Ketchum, to frequent the facility.

"I don't come here much," he admitted.

The Community School student said that although he's a voracious reader, he finds most of his material at the school library.

Kai was brought to Thursday's event by his mom, Heidi Campbell, who said she has a hard time buying enough books to keep her son occupied.

"He's a huge reader," she said. "I've kind of given up buying books."

She said that when she heard about the Community Library's new young adult room, she decided to bring Kai to check it out.

"I was excited there was something devoted to kids his age," she said. "Summer is coming and we won't have access [to the school library]. The dedicated section for young adults helps us find books—or, at least, the right books."

Campbell, her son and any other member of the public can be part of the section's future.

"We want to make sure this is a place you want to be and that we have the things you want to have here," von Tagen told the group. "This is just the beginning. How it develops, it's really up to you."

Rebecca Meany:

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