While most people only know the Braden River Public Library as a place for gathering information, doing school projects, using the free internet and computers, meeting with friends, or just plain reading, there is more to it than most people know.
There is a program at the library made especially for teenagers to share ideas, have fun, and earn volunteer hours: the Teen Advisory Board.
The purpose of the TAB board is to make sure the library is ordering material teens want to read and there are also programs of interest to them.
"The point is to ask the teens their advice," said Stacy Reyer, a youth services librarian and the adviser to the TAB. "You want to have the library be a welcoming place for teens instead of just guessing on our own what it is teens are interested in. It is also a way for teens to get volunteer hours for scholarships."
The advisory board has been offering ideas for about six years and is the most successful one in the county library system. Most of the other libraries don't offer teen advisory boards.
"I definitely think it's good for the library, and (TAB) has
helped us with our programming for teenagers, and also for younger kids, and that's been really good," said Cathy Laird, Braden River Library's Supervisor.
The most impressive thing the board has accomplished has been the "Geek the Library" campaign video that the teens created last year. "Geek the Library" is a nationwide public marketing campaign funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. The video TAB created for the campaign has been used in presentations across the country, has been included on the nationwide website and was even shown in movie theaters.
"Everybody was super-impressed with that effort, and I think it was really good for the library" Laird said.
Reyer is currently searching for a grant to fund a Creative Learning Lab as a model to see how teens will use it. The proposed model would include a bank of Apple computers with photo, video and music editing capabilities, designed to allow students to create their own projects. The lab would be geared to journalism and writing and would benefit things like poetry slam, a popular event held last October.
If the learning lab is successful, it could be duplicated at the Central Library.
Reyer also wants to collaborate with the art program here at Braden River to decorate the bulletin boards in the children's area at the library. There may be a partnership soon between the two programs, making teens an even bigger part of the Braden River Public Library.
An abundance of the students who join the TAB are from the Pirate family. Danny Hennessy, sophomore, recently joined the board.
"I heard about it from [a friend] and I decided it would be kind of cool," Hennessy says.
While he joined for fun, John Quartuccio, a sophomore at Bayshore High School, earns volunteer hours as well. Every event done by the TAB, even the meetings held every month, awards members with hours. Both Hennessy and Quartuccio are excited that they get to earn hours if they simply volunteer at Mana-Con, an annual comic convention held at the Central Library.
The next teen advisory board meeting in April 27. It is open to any student who wants to come.