Teen Library Council offers youth opportunity to stay connected
In a world of technology, the Portage County Library is finding ways to offer teens the option of staying connected to books, and those taking advantage say they love it.
The library’s children and adult programs have done well, but pre-teen and teen youths are more difficult to reach, library officials said. The book club Teen PageTurners and a community-oriented group, Teen Library Council (TLC), provide an avenue for teens to stay connected, and it helps the library continue outreach in real time.
“We want to foster involvement in the kids, and it’s a way for us to stay plugged in with teens,” said Andria Rice, library specialist and an adviser to the TLC. “We can show them that technology can keep you connected to your library.”
The TLC, in its third year, works similar to a school Student Council, whereby the members – which run close to a dozen – meet on a monthly basis to discuss upcoming events and programs and brainstorm the same to target the teen population.
Last month, for example, the group accepted books from the community for a book swap event. For each donated book, the donor received a ticket to attend the swap and receive a “new” book. The swap, which the teen members spent several hours planning, took place Thursday, Dec. 29. Unclaimed books were donated to the Portage County foster care program so each child entering foster care could receive a gift to have of their own, the kids said.
The council’s next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at the library, 1001 Main St., Stevens Point. Teens are welcome to attend a meeting to see what the council is all about before signing up.
For those already involved, the council is a place they come to make and be with friends, share interests and learn new and different ways they can help in the community promoting reading and the library.
“It’s fun,” said Berit Borgnes, a sixth-grader at Point of Discovery School. “Reading is fun, and I get to feel like I’m more part of the community and meet new people.”
At the recent book swap, P.J. Jacobs Junior High School seventh-grader Aleeyah Vang came with her friend, TLC member and fellow P.J.’s seventh-grader Kacey Vicker, who just moved to the area this past fall. Vang, who appeared more shy and reserved, wasn’t sure at the swap if this was the group for her yet, but Vicker really encouraged and supported her participation.
“I just love helping out,” Vicker said. “It’s fun and it’s helping my community. What could be better than that?”
In some cases, members have volunteered during the summer months, and being part of the council allows them to continue that process.
“It’s really a good experience,” said Isaac Roloff, another seventh-grader at P.J. Jacobs.
TLC members also get some bonuses for their commitment and interest, one of which is the ability to review new teen books before they hit the market, and be part of the reporting process that determines the readability and interest level to help publishers in deciding on release.
“It’s a perk for the kids,” said Deb Roloff, library associate and adviser to the council. “They can review and comment on the cover art and connect with publishers. If they complete a review they get to keep the book.”
“We want them to feel their voices are heard and they’ve helped build something,” Rice said. “They get a sense of ownership in the library,” Roloff said.
Teens involved in the group also are given a variety of service opportunities and can use the experience on council for resumes, scholarships and other applications.
About the Teen Library Council
Portage County Public Library Teen Library Council is looking for teens in grades six through 12 interested in making a difference in their library and community. The council meets every second Thursday of the month.
The group next meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at the library. Already, the group is reviewing and brainstorming ideas for spring and summer teen programming.
About Teen Page Turners
Teen Page Turners is a teen book club for teens in sixth through 12th grade. The group reads and discusses titles chosen by the club participants, including talking about favorite characters or scenes from the book, who would you cast in the movie adaptation, whether you loved the book or hated it and why?
PageTurners meets the second Thursday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the library. Next meeting is Thursday, Jan. 12. Registration is required. Contact Youth Services at 715 346-1549 for information about the group. The current book club selection is available at the Youth Services Desk on the lower level.
How to stay connected through technology
The Portage County Public Library has expanded to include ways to have teens stay connected to reading through technology. Teens can join Goodreads.com – it is free of charge.
Through the website, teens can become a member of the PCPL Teen Reads online Book Group at www.goodreads.com/group/show/69951-pcpl-teen-reads.
Under the “discussion board” teens can click “join this group” to make an account and become an online book group member. Safety and confidentiality measures are taken to ensure teen privacy, library officials said.
Library officials are not concerned with the addition of technology and in fact welcome it.
“It still helps foster the love of reading,” Roloff said. “We’ve talked to a lot of parents about it, and if they’re reading on a Kindle or a Nook, they are still reading.”
For more information on these or any other youth library programs, contact Youth Services at the library at 715-346-1549.