The Athenaeum: Teen Wing Tour

Now that the dust has settled, the grand opening is over, and we’re all moved in, I thought I’d post some pictures and give everyone a virtual tour of the Teen Wing. 🙂 It’s been over a year of planning, fretting, and hoping for this beautiful space to come together. The pipe bookcases, the steampunk gears, the paint…I’m in awe of how perfect this new space is. I’m also incredibly thankful to The Oregon Cultural Trust, Google, Adams Design Center, LaRoque Design Company,  and all of our donors and community partners for making this dream a reality.

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Pretty snazzy looking, huh?

There are four main areas in the Teen Space, not counting the Digital Media Lab: The New Book Display, The Study Nook, The Lounge, and The Maker Bar.

The New Book Display

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This area houses our bulletin board (with event flyers and a monthly calendar, a large pipe bookcase for displaying new books, and two cozy ottomans for sitting and reading.

The Study Nook

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Three desktop computers for doing homework, surfing the internet, etc. Behind them, there’s also a whiteboard for collaborative study (off camera). The YA nonfiction collection – including a number of books on college and career prep, study guides, etc. – sits below the whiteboard.

The Lounge

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AKA Hangout Central. Each day after school, the teens all rush upstairs to see who gets the couch first. 🙂 It has become a favorite spot for curling up to read or for playing the new Xbox One. The couch is on casters, which makes it easy to move when we need to open up the space for programming. The lovely gate leg table behind the couch expands to seat up to six teens – which is great for playing board games, doing crafts, or group study sessions. The TV doubles as a presentation screen for guest speakers and workshop leaders.

The Maker Bar

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The Maker Bar is tucked along the outside wall of the Digital Media Lab. It seats three teens comfortably and has become a popular spot for doing homework. We purchased a Scrapbox Studio Tower and filled it with art and STEM activities: LEGOS, Strawbees, jewelry making supplies, yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, origami paper, charcoal, sharpies, drawing paper, watercolor paints…whew. You get the idea. 🙂 In hindsight, I’d probably go with a cart, rather than a tower. Sadly, despite its efficiency, it was poorly constructed and I wouldn’t recommend it to others. But it’s been a joy to watch the teens making art and experimenting with all the supplies we’ve provided.

Bonus pics! 

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The elevator door, which is undeniably awesome.

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My custom desk and the door to the Digital Media Lab.

It’s been an incredible experience to watch this room be constructed. It’s hard to believe that, a year and a half ago, it was just an idea and a design I’d created using the SweetHome 3D program. I can’t wait to start offering regular programs for the teens in this wonderful space.

Here’s to goals accomplished!

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Volunteering Vs. Service Learning

I just got back from the YALSA conference, which was held in Portland this year. My head is still swimming with ideas and information. But of all the sessions I attended this weekend, one in particular stood out to me: “Elevating Teen Volunteers to Loftier Roles.”

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My minions. *Cough*  I mean volunteers.

I’ve been struck lately by how boring traditional “volunteering” duties can be for teens. Yes, shelving books and DVD’s can be helpful (and necessary). But, if that’s all your volunteers are doing, that makes for a pretty uninspiring volunteer experience.

Enter the Seattle Public Library’s Service Learning Program. SPL wanted the same thing I do: to give their teens a meaningful role at their library. Their goal was to help their teens develop leadership and project management skills while working collaboratively together. So they decided to put their teenagers in charge of their programs.

Yes. You read that right. The teens were in charge of programming.

There were three key requirements for the programs the teens built:

  1. Projects had to be teen-driven (and they had to be exciting to the teens)
  2. Projects had to meet a community need
  3. Projects had to meet a library need

For example: Let’s say the teens wanted to start a Animanga Club. All three of the aforementioned requirements would have to be met in order for the program to take place.

It sounds so simple but is really is profound. I love this idea of making volunteering more meaningful by allowing teens to plan and implement their own Service Learning Projects. It gives them a chance to develop real-world skills they can use later on in life (marketing, event planning, working within a budget, etc.) It makes their voices and ideas hold weight and empowers them to take ownership of their library.

This is something I hope to implement in our volunteering program going forward. Our teen volunteers give so much to the library. I want to make sure that they’re “getting something” our of volunteering too.