Teen Space Feature, Farmington Public Library’s Teen Zone (Fall 2012 Issue)

In the Fall 2012 issue of YALS, youth services librarian Katherine Trouern-Trend takes a look at the new National Teen Space Guidelines from the Young Adult Library Services Association. These guidelines were created in 2011-2012 by a task force and adopted by YALSA’s board of directors in May. Several libraries were included as model spaces. We asked some of them to share photos and information about their spaces and will be featuring them in the coming weeks.

This week’s featured teen space is the Teen Zone from Farmington Public Library in Farmington, NM. David Florez, the library’s Teen Zone Coordinator, shared some information and pictures of the space.

“Located in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest, the Farmington Public Library serves a culturally diverse population of approximately 110,000, with a collection consisting of more than 190,000 books, e-books, periodicals and multimedia titles and is home to the Teen Zone social space.

Teens at the Farmington Public Library meet with Paul Volponi through Skype.

The Teen Zone at the Farmington Public Library is a social space designed by the teens of San Juan County. Teens are encouraged to use the space for homework, to hang out with their friends and to just have fun. The Teen Zone hosts many programs for teens including movies, gaming, and afterschool activities. The graphic novel collection is also housed in this room as well as the new Young Adult book display. The Teen Zone is more than just a room in the library. The staff strives to reach out into the community to offer various opportunities for the teens in San Juan County, New Mexico. These opportunities include; the Mayor’s Teen Advisory Council, Youth in Action, and Blended Zine. The Teen Zone also focuses on new ways to spread a love of literacy throughout the county with the Summer Reading program and by embracing technology and using it in new ways to inspire teens to read.

The Mayor’s Teen Advisory Council meets the first Thursday of the month at the Farmington Public Library. The focus of MTAC is Positive Youth Development: Youth contribute to their community; feel safe in their environment; achieve educational success; and develop personal and social skills. Teens who participate in the teen council committees are given responsibilities that positively affect the libraries they service while gaining skills that can help them in school and in the world of work. Teens collaborate in the committees and share information and nurture mutual respect and understanding between the generations.

The Mayor’s Teen Advisory Council at Farmington Public Library

MTAC has worked on a wide variety of programs since its inception. These projects have included teen transportation, health and wellness, and collecting clothing for the homeless. Members of MTAC worked with the Farmington Assistant City Manager, Bob Campbell, and the Red Apple Transit to develop a bus pass. For a onetime fee, teens would be able to ride the local bus to any of the normally scheduled stops anytime during the school year. As part of the health and wellness model, teens had the opportunity to learn how to Zumba. After a bit of practice, they showed off their moves in the Rotunda at the Farmington Public Library. This was also featured at a Dia de los ninos, Dia de los Libros event. MTAC has also participated in Make a Difference day which is when they collected hat, gloves, socks and scarves which were distributed at a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless.

The New Mexico Forum for Youth in Community and the New Mexico Youth Alliance invited youth and adults from the Farmington Four Corners area to participate in a leadership. There was a dialogue and leadership workshops to discuss generational and racial healing in your community. Participants had the opportunity to discuss collective leadership and create a path toward transforming the community through hands-on activities.

MTAC’s newest endeavor is a volunteer database. The teen council worked with Mayor Tommy Robert’s to develop an online log that allows anyone in the community to register and log their volunteer hours. This log was inspired as a way for teens in the area to record and keep track of the hours they serve in their communities. They will be able to present this information for college applications, job opportunities, and for community service hours. MTAC always encourages teens to volunteer in their community and is now able to give back by helping teens keep track of the time they serve.

Youth In Action teens help to reduce the social and retail availability of alcohol to minors and support enforcement of underage drinking laws. Youth in Action contacts local alcohol serving establishments and organizes to meet at their location to place stickers on the alcoholic beverages to create awareness in the community about the consequences for providing alcohol to a minor. Since 2006, the Youth in Action team has performed 20 sticker shocks in the San Juan County area and placed over 44,000 stickers. They have also done presentations around the state inspiring other communities to take a stand against underage drinking. This is a partnership with New Mexico MADD.

Each year, teens have the opportunity to register for the Farmington Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. Those that read five books during the course of the summer get a free t-shirt. The Teen Zone hosts a weekly program. In 2012, 764 teens registered for the Own the Night Summer Reading program and read 2,653 books. As part of the program, teens had the opportunity to take place in a Call of Duty tournament, a Batman movie marathon, and they learned how to make their own YouTube video. Each program highlighted various books in the library’s collection that tied into that week’s theme.

Now seeking submissions for its eleventh issue, Blended Zine is a literature and art magazine for teens, by teens. Area students submit their work, which is then reviewed and selected by a volunteer all-teen editorial staff. In addition to the printed magazine, Blended is available in electronic format. Since its start in 2007, more than 4,000 pieces have been submitted to the Zine. Copies of Blended are available in the Teen Zone at the Farmington Public Library and are delivered to area schools after each release. Each issue has been released at a special release party that honors the teen artists. Submissions are currently being accepted for the 11th issue which will be released in Spring 2013. All teens in San Juan County are welcome to volunteer their time for the Zine. Blended Zine artwork is currently on display in Lt. Governor, John A. Sanchez’s  office at the New Mexico State Capitol Roundhouse. Blended Zine teen artists were part of the High Desert Fine Art Juried Art Show, where many of them sold their original art. Teen in the show learned about showing in a professional art show and attended a workshop by the Northwest New Mexico Arts Council to help them prepare for the event.  The Zine staff has presented at the New Mexico Forum for Youth, Practitioner’s Summit in Albuquerque NM and at the 2008 ALA conference in Anaheim California. The Zine was also featured in an episode of New Mexico Style on KASA Fox television in Albuquerque. Blended has both Facebook and Twitter pages and use those heavily to connect with teens in the area and to keep them informed of upcoming deadlines and events.

Teens in San Juan County are incredibly tech savvy. The Teen Zone incorporates technology into just about every program and makes it a part of the daily lives of the teens that visit. Teens can use their school issued laptops in the Teen Zone to access the library’s wireless internet, download audio and e-books and connect to the multitude of online databases available through the library’s website. In addition, teens can listen to their favorite music or play their favorite video games in the Teen Zone.

The Teen Zone has a special feature called the Juke-AN-ator.  This digital jukebox is updated on a regular basis by the Teen Zone staff.  It currently has more than 2,000 albums available for listening. Teens can select the music they want to hear in the Teen Zone. When no music has been selected, the Juke plays a random playlist until another teen comes along to select their tunes.

Teens that have a valid Farmington Public Library card can play Playstation 3, XBox 360, Wii, and Playstation 2 games. Teens must follow the Gaming Policy which is posted both online and in the Teen Zone. They also must register for the Summer Reading program during the summer months. Having video games available makes the library enticing to teens, and encourages them to visit the library. Many teens have been drawn to the library because of the gaming but develop a further love of the library and its services as they spend time in the Teen Zone.

The Teen Zone has even embraced virtual author visits. The teens have had the opportunity to meet Simone Elkeles, Julie Anne Peters, and Paul Volponi through Skype.   Even though weren’t even in the same state, teens had a great time chatting with their favorite authors. They were able to learn how the books they loved were developed and what to expect from some of the authors next stories. This also encouraged the teens to start looking into other author’s websites and Facebook pages and find out more about their favorite series.

There is always quite a lot going on in the Teen Zone. Teens are given the opportunity to express themselves and make a positive impact in their community. The setting is certainly not that of a traditional library, but instead has been developed based on the thoughts and ideas of the teens themselves. Because of this, the space is loved by the teens and they enjoy the time spent there.”

Check out the fall issue of YALS to read Katherine Trouern-Trend’s article on the new teen space guidelines, along with more content on advocating for high quality service to teens. If you are a YALSA member YALS is a perk of your membership dues. If not a member learn how to join, or learn how to subscribe.

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