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There is a group of kids that come into the library fairly frequently. First they are there to use the internet, then when their time is over they disappear out of the view of the circ desk and make messes, be loud, and other disruptive things. They also talk back to any of us who address them. It’s been very frustrating for us all. While they are there all I can think about is catching them doing something so that I can kick them out.

However, when I look at this in retrospect, it makes me more convinced that we are providing a disservice to these kids and that our library needs some sort of teens’ services program. I’m not sure how it would look. I know it could possibly involve board game tournaments or movie nights, but I don’t know how it could look on the everyday scale. In our town there is nothing for teens to do, but walk around, bored looking for something to amuse them. The library is somewhere they can go to when there is nowhere else to go.

I imagine ideally there would be a teen space where they could gather and socialize (in a reasonable manner) or perform some sort of task where socializing would accompany it. (Such as the aforementioned board games). But how do you create that atmosphere in an existing space that wasn’t designed for it?

This post is primarily questions, but I believe it has a lot to do with the idea of third places and creating a community focused civic space. When there is nothing else to do, how can we create a space in the library that fits the needs of teens.

I stumbled across this article from the project for public spaces. It is an article discussing making libraries matter in the 21st century.  I think it is a great article that expresses what I feel the new library should embody. I aspire to create a place like this.

‘but they [libraries] still garner respect, praise and even adoration on account of their innovative management and programming–as well as design that supports a multitude of different uses. They are taking on a larger civic role–balancing their traditional needs and operations with outreach to the wider community–thereby contributing to the creation of a physical commons that benefits the public as a whole. If the old model of the library was the inward-focused community “reading room,” the new one is more like a community “front porch.”‘

So I actually got to thinking about this issue before I watched that awesom video that Aaron posted about public spaces. More or less it started when I was listening to Thomas Friedman’s new book in my car on the way to orchestra rehearsal. He too discusses the lack of meaningful spaces in his book. I wish I had a copy of it, but alas, I had to return it to the library! His reasoning differs in that he was examining international travel and discussed that people from other countries don’t visit the US as much as they used to. He feels a part of this is the seeming lack of care we take in our appearances. This relates to Kunstler because no one wants to look at Wal-marts.

While I don’t buy Kunstler’s idea that meaningless spaces creates a feeling of anxiety, I do think it creates a feeling of disassociation. If there is no meaningful PUBLIC space, no one will care what happens. I feel a library can be that public space. A library is not just¬† a place to house information anymore, it is a community space that can host teen movie nights and wii sports tournaments as well as summer reading program events. I believe that the library should do as much outreach as possible because the more we present our institution to the public as a true service to the community, the more the community will engage with us in return.

What Am I Reading Now?

my currently-reading shelf:
Stephanie's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (currently-reading shelf)

Some genealogy links

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