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In an effort to raise interest in library, advisory board promotes 'Teen Loft'

In an effort to raise interest in library, advisory board promotes 'Teen Loft'

December 30, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

If you're a teenager in Washington County, the Teen Advisory Board wants you - or at least your opinion.

The Teen Advisory Board at Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown works to get young adults more interested in the library through events, contests, music and books that appeal to teenagers, said advisory board member Francis Byrne, 17, a senior at Clear Spring High School.

Now Francis and his friends, with support from library honchos, are trying to drum up interest in their biggest idea yet for attracting teens to the public library: a space of their own.

Dubbed the "Teen Loft," the mezzanine area overlooking the stacks on the library's Antietam Street side will be a "good place for teenagers to hang out away from home, where you don't have to do chores," said Julia Copley, 17, a home-school graduate and part-time student at Hagerstown Community College.

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"Your parents won't have to worry about where you are," added fellow home-schooler Candace Cowdrick, 16.

"It'll be a safe haven with music and posters and squishy armchairs - at least that's how I picture it," Julia said.

How do you picture it? The Teen Advisory Board wants to know.

Would you come to the library more often if it had computers just for teens to use, video games, a listening station for music, good sound system, comfy furniture, neon signs and other cool decorations? Do you like the idea of a glass wall separating the Teen Loft from other areas of the library?

Your input can help make the advisory board's dream into a reality. And your time can earn you the student service learning hours that you need to graduate from high school in Washington County. Advisory board members meet for about one hour twice monthly under the guidance of Lisa Key, circulation manager, and Donna Parks, head of the library's children's department.

Washington County Technical High School junior Christine Muir doesn't need a lot of prodding to go to the library - but the added perk of earning community service hours makes her library trips better.

"I like to read anyway, and the community service hours are a real plus," said Christine, 16.

Smithsburg High School junior Amy Ballard, 16, has been involved with the advisory board for several years. She and her peers have tackled the problem of getting teens who don't like to read more involved with the library, she said.

Here's how they've done it:

-- By suggesting books and music suited to teens' interests, including a collection of CDs so popular that they're always checked out, Keys said.

-- By hosting open-mike and movie nights.

-- By staging plays for younger kids.

-- By getting teens' writings published in the library's quarterly newsletter.

-- By planning contests, including one in which teens were invited to dress as their favorite stereotypes.

The advisory board also hopes to host a lock-in at the library - an after-hours event with movies and games, Francis said.

To join the Teen Advisory Board or to suggest ideas for the Teen Loft, please call 301-739-3250, ext. 126 or 132; or send an e-mail to dp01@wc-link.org or lk01@wc-link.org. Financial donations also are welcome.

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