Three weeks have passed since the Portland Public Library reopened after a lengthy renovation (which I wrote about here). The addition of a teen area is a completely new idea for the community of Portland, Maine. At first, teens didn’t really understand that this was THEIR space. However, over the last week or so they’ve started to trickle in and discover the space.
So what are they doing? They’re connecting with their friends on Facebook in our computer lab. They’re relaxing and tweeting on their IPads in our teen lounge. They’re using their netbooks anywhere they can find a spot. And don’t worry…they’re reading (on every sort of device be it book, phone, computer, ereader).
My words of advice? Let them explore. Say hello. Let them know you are their friend. Make sure they know that the teen library is THEIR space.
More Teen stuff at the Portland Public Library can be found here and here.
Let me say this: change is extremely difficult. It’s also not a quick fix, but a process that may go on for many years. Change also has many hills and valleys and sometimes you can’t see the destination.
In the end, however, change is totally worth all the ups and downs that come with it.
Over the past few months, I’ve experienced a lot of change in my career as a librarian. I started off the year as the Teen Librarian at the Cape May County Library in Southern, NJ. In February, I accepted a position as the new Teen Librarian at the Portland Public Library in Portland, ME. The task was quite daunting: in April 2010, the library would complete a $7.3 million dollar renovation which was funded by a bond approved by voters and donations from individuals and organizations. One of the main features of the renovated library was a dedicated teen space, something that the library never had before.
Basically, it sort of went something like this: “There’s not a strong teen presence in the library and this is all a blank slate. Here’s a brand new space, some money, and a bunch of great tools. Work your magic.” Yes, it sounds like a dream, yet at the same time it sounds like a scary task. I accepted and never looked back. Moving your entire family 482 miles is no fun. Leaving behind a teen program and a wonderful group of teens that you worked so hard to build for 2 years is also really hard. But what the Portland Public Library wanted was change. They wanted to make the teens in the community know that the library is their building and that they are welcome. They wanted change, and I was going to help them get there.
We reopened to the public on April 15, 2010 and welcomed our community with open arms. Patrons are now back in the building, wandering around at their new library. The response? Overwhelming love and support. I am inspired to reach out to the teens of Portland, Maine. I cannot wait to show them what the library has to offer them.
So what am I trying to accomplish with this story? Librarians and Libraries right now are in a state of change. Where do we go? Are books our future? Do we focus on being the community center as the way forward? What will the digital revolution do to us? All of these questions are valid and very tough to face. But here’s what I’ve learned in the middle of all my personal change…we’re going to be all right.
Libraries and Librarians are climbing up a really steep hill right now and it’s pretty tiring, but once we get over it, there is quite a beautiful view. We can do this. The library will survive.
Here’s the PSA that the Portland Public Library created to announce the reopening of the library.
-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor
People, Libraries & Technology – A Weblog by Michael Stephens