New area focused on teen learning, needs
The Windsor Regional Library is almost done with construction of a new space specifically designed for teenagers. The goal of this space is to create a learning environment for teens; somewhere they can meet, study collaboratively, have access to the internet and feel comfortable reading at the library.
Windsor’s library serves a growing population, and the size of the library compared to the population is quite small.
“We were looking for a way to carve out a small area to create a safe space for teens,” said Aleta Dimas, the branch manager. “A place where teens can both be themselves and get involved in what's going on in the library.”
Throughout the past couple of years, the library staff has been looking into ways they can improve services to teens.
“We have a really dynamic children’s program, and a great following among adults, but the teen years are the years we want to improve the connection to the library,” said Dimas.
In the late fall, the library learned it had won the Maximizing Learning Spaces grant provided by the California State Library. This $10,000 grant was awarded to 10 California libraries with the goal of helping them create a specialized learning space for their patrons. This grant also included the services of a design consultant to help the winning libraries design their new space.
The consultant visited the Windsor library, looked at multiple areas inside and ultimately decided that the space that would work best was a previously-used staff workstation.
“By gaining some efficiencies and reworking where we do our staff work, we determined we could create this space dedicated for teens,” said Dimas.
In addition to the $10,000 grant, the Friends of the Windsor Library covered a large portion of for it to be sturdy and durable.
The space will have two computers dedicated to teens, a circular table designed for group study, work and collaboration, a mobile whiteboard, two lounge chairs for teens to relax and read, a stationary single person work table and two bookshelves for the library’s teen book collection.
Previously, the teen materials were spread out throughout the library because there was not a specific teen area. Whenever possible, contemporary libraries try to create a space for teens because their learning needs are so different from those of children and adults.
Dimas said the library wants to make sure they welcome teens and support their transition to adulthood.
The library has had to make some changes to accommodate the new teen space. They are encouraging customers to drop their books off outside instead of bringing them into the library to be manually checked in. There have also been some repairs and additions made to the back room in order to enhance workflow. While it is still a work in progress, the library team has come together to find ways to work more efficiently and make the transition easier for all who visit the library.
Some older library members have shared concerns with removing the staff work station. They are afraid that staff will be laid off because there won’t be a place to put them, or because they are encouraging customers to use the self check machine.
“We’re not laying people off, what we are really doing is reprioritizing the hours for staff we already have, which allows our staff from a variety of job classifications to be more involved in direct service to our customers,” said Dimas.
Everyone on the library staff is excited to offer this new service to teens and to involve them more in the library community. A ribbon cutting ceremony is slated for early to middle July.