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Youth seek to make library teen friendly
By Matt Stone

November 5, 2005

Kyrene Corridor teenagers are playing an integral part in making the Tempe Public Library more teen-friendly.

A group called Teen Friends of the Tempe Public Library was formed in early 2004 to allow teens to contribute to the library.

The group consists of roughly 25 members, ranging in age from 12-18. Meeting monthly, the members brainstorm ways to improve the library’s appeal to young people.

“They help in a lot of different ways, look for ways in the community to help—a whole variety of things in both the library and community,” said librarian Anna-Marie O’Brien.

The library, which has been seen by some as scaled to its older patrons, appears to be benefiting from the youth injection. Those running the library see accommodation to the younger class as essential, a feeling shared by the group. 

“Teens are different from adults; we need to accommodate teens, [make them] think of the library as a friendly place to come,” said O’Brien.

The ultimate goal is to make the library a veritable hotspot, somewhere teens can go not only to research and study, but as an alternative to the mall.

To accomplish this, the group holds projects such as book sales and a Halloween festival, which acts as a substitute for trick-or-treating. Immersing themselves in all kinds of volunteer work, the teens make their presence known at the library.

They are even called upon on occasion to act as unofficial advisors to the library’s higher-ups. The impact is made through their presence, making the teens usefulness undeniable. Outsiders have also recognized the group’s efforts, who sing their praises.

“They’ve knocked my socks off…I’m just so impressed,” said O’Brien. “[They’re] nothing like I was when I was a teen.”

Other community organizations also recognize the teens’ efforts.

Tempe Community Council awarded its 2005 Tempe Youth Volunteer of the Year award to

Allison Ringness, a member and volunteer of the library for five years.

While the group strives to make the library better for the members’ peers and generations to come, they develop personally as well.

“I think they make a difference to themselves,” said O’Brien. “[They get] a sense of place, belonging, making a difference--a sense of satisfaction.”

Growing is a big part of being in the group, which helps to attract new members, who they are always looking for.

Membership forms are located at the library checkout desk and in the Youth Library. There is a membership fee of $5, which goes towards snacks and supplies.

For more information, contact O’Brien at (480) 350-5507.






























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