For this month’s Site Spotlight we are focused on Loveland Public Library’s Teen Hangout, in Loveland, Colorado.
Amber Holmes is the Teen Services Manager and she gave us some great information and said their entire staff contributed the content provided.
The Teen Hangout has been operating since February 2012. Currently there is only one site. Teens enjoy access to new technologies, making friends, learning life skills, pursuing areas of interest, connecting to community services and having a leadership role within the library. All services, including 3D printing and snacks, are drop in and free of charge. Right now, teens are excited about volunteering. Our Teen Volunteer Program has taken off since starting in 2017, with teens logging over 750 hours of volunteer service in the first year: leading programs, organizing supplies, and helping others get excited about the library. The program focuses on job skills, relationship building, and civic engagement. Teens also find leadership roles through membership with our Teen Advisory Board, a group that meets monthly to advise library staff on the collection, run programs for teens by teens, and fundraise. We became the first library in the state of Colorado to add a voting youth member to its library board, this year. Also popular are the many maker supplies available to teens including robotics, a vinyl cutter, button maker, sewing machine, arts and crafts, 3D printer, and heat press. Teens are encouraged to explore and create anything they’d like using these materials or to grab a project-idea-card if they’re looking for a self-guided activity. Lately, teens have been busy customizing school supplies with unique graphics and creating gifts for family and friends.
When asked what they are most excited about in the Teen Hangout, they said, "We’re very excited for Fandom month where we celebrate all things nerdy. The Teen Hangout offers an annual free-form Fandom Contest encouraging teens to submit anything written or visual, from fanfiction to a baked cake to a cosplay outfit. Teens have free access to tools and supplies at the library to create their entry. Programming focuses on different Fandoms each week and the grand prize winner receives tickets to Denver Comic Con and bragging rights for the year."
When asked what they want people to know about their Teen Hangout they said that Loveland Library’s Teen Hangout encompasses 2,000 square feet, including an open area with modular seating, butcher-block maker tables, computers, and a public desk, a gaming room, and a study/project room with green screen. Within this space are maker shelves, media, magazines, graphic novel and manga collections, as well as tabletop games, lockers, iPads for in-house use, charging stations, a public phone, and snacks. We also maintain an additional 665 square feet to house our young adult fiction, non-fiction, and audio book collection, located directly outside of the teen space.
In 2017, the library saw over 7,000 teens come in afterschool, with 65 teens on average each day. The majority are middle school students eligible for free and reduced lunch, who attend school within walking distance of the library. This has led to a successful partnership with Food Bank of Larimer County and Friends of the Loveland Public Library to provide free snacks to teens during all open hours at the library. We are also a licensed Kids Café site, providing additional nutritious snacks afterschool during the week. In 2017, the library provided over 10,000 snacks to tweens and teens within our space. We also partner with Kids Pak to provide a weekend’s worth of meals to food-insecure teens.
Ongoing programs focus on building life skills, encouraging creativity and sharing new experiences. Teens learn how to code robots, fabricate their own designs, make healthy snacks, write stories, and complete service projects. They also have the opportunity to explore other organizations in our community such as The Humane Society (animal shelter), CreatorSpace (local maker lab), Art Space (artists’ coop) and Lulzbot (3D printing manufacturer) during library-sponsored field trips.
Our community collaborations include a strong partnership with the local school district for outreach and onsite tours and programming. In 2017, the library provided outreach to over 1,000 middle and high school students and another 485 students visited the library during school tours. Other community collaborations that meet within our teen space include a support network for LGBTQ+ teens, a transition program; a court ordered group mentorship program designed to help young adults find alternative paths to difficult situations; and online/homeschooling organizations.
We have a zoom meeting scheduled with Amber soon. So, keep posted for a site spotlight podcast.