The very word “library” conjures images of stacks upon stacks of books and people bent quietly as they read or work at desks. That’s obviously changed with the times – people are now bent over keyboards as they stare at computer screens – although quiet is still a part of the library environment.
The Warwick Public Library has been breaking the stereotype for years and it continues to do so with its “teen space.” For starters, when the then “new” library was built on Sandy Lane, it included a café where people could buy coffee, other beverages and baked goods. At the time that was a stretch and there was a lot of excitement over the thought that someone might actually go to a library, not just to pick out a book or two, but to find a comfortable environment to meet other people.
The then “new library” also incorporated several rooms with large windows where small groups could meet and talk without disrupting the “whisper mode” of a library. It was another break though.
And then, of course, there was the children’s library where you might actually hear shrieks of glee and, who knows, an adult laugh. The children’s library is upstairs. And while not hidden away, certainly it is far enough removed so that those impetuous indiscretions of spontaneity don’t filter into the main library.
Then there are library rooms that serve countless community functions from meeting locations for home-schooled students and their parents to registration for Little Leagues. Efforts to be a community resource stretch beyond the physical facility. Library programs ranging from musical performances to lectures and art exhibits seek to appeal to a wide cross section of the community.
Last month the library opened its “teen space,” its latest effort to be an inclusive community resource.
Teens have always been a part of the Warwick Library. Schoolwork takes them there. Being together with friends is also a reason to go to the library. And then, too, there are programs aimed just at teens.
Thanks in large measure to a grant from the Champlin Foundations, teens now have a library space they can call their own. It has computers, magazines and books, as you would expect to find in a library. It also has comfortable couches and chairs that can easily be rolled so as to form clusters. And then there’s the Xbox 360 where they can challenge their peers to games. Who would have thought?
“Quiet mode,” as you may gather, is not part of the teen space environment. On the other hand, don’t expect the windows or the library floor to be vibrating from boom box music.
It’s a respectful place where teens can find “their” space, too.