More Teenagers Are Pouring Into The Library Than Ever Before!
Norfolk, VA (March 3, 2009). They're tech savvy, sophisticated and smart. They're teens and they are pouring into the library in droves to take full advantage of the 400+ computers the Norfolk Public Library has added to its libraries in the past three years. About 80% of computer users from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm are teens. Having computers in the libraries help provide students with an outlet to access up-to-date, reliable information to complete homework activities. It is also a way for teens to relax in a safe environment and use the computers for entertainment and recreation.
With the increase in computers, we were also able to increase the amount of time customers can use the computers, from thirty minutes to two hours. This increase gives customers plenty of time to do homework and use for entertainment. At the Pretlow Anchor Branch Library, teens have their own section of the library, the TeenZone. In the TeenZone, teens have access to 25 computers, Young Adult books, and space to relax and hang out with friends.
Due to the large numbers of teens coming to the library, more and more of them are volunteering with the library, and working for us as computer aides and library aides. Computer aides supervise the computer area, and help customers use the computers. Library aides shelve books and help with clerical projects. Our volunteers help keep KidZones clean, participate in outreach events, and help with office work as needed. We also host about 25 teens every summer for the City of Norfolk's Summer Earn & Learn program.
Almost every library location has a Teen Advisory Board that plans events for teens to participate in. Teen programming includes everything from book clubs to gaming. At Horace C. Downing Branch Library, teens use the meeting room weekly to host a dance workshop. In an attempt to make a better connection with teenage customers, Jordan-Newby Branch Library has partnered with Booker T. Washington High School to offer a teen book club that meets once a month at the high school. Participation has been very high, with almost 25 participants every month. At the book club, Jordan-Newby staff are able to register teens for library cards, and promote library programs.
In March, NPL will be celebrating Teen Tech Week by hosting a gaming tournament using the Wii game Super Smash Bros. Brawl ®. Seven branch libraries will host tournaments and then winners from those tournaments will go on to play in the championship game at Pretlow Anchor Branch Library. Larchmont Branch Library hosts video game practices and tournaments on a monthly basis, and participation in the practices and tournaments range from 8 to 25 teens each month.
The Norfolk Public Library continues to update its book collection by providing nonfiction books that help teens complete homework assignments and are consistent with the SOL's. Expanding on the Teen After School Initiative at Norfolk Public Library is one of our top priorities. Our plan is to continue to update our computers, offer educational programs and cultural events that are attractive to teens. We want the teenagers of Norfolk to feel like the library is meant for them and is an exciting place to be and have products and services that they really want and need. As one of our library staff recently said, "I spent years trying to bring teenagers into our libraries and with all of the computers, it has finally happened!"