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Library offers timely treasures for teens

By Megan Diermeier
posted April 20, 2011

All Oshkosh residents know of the public library, in existence since 1896, the building since 1900. Many teens loathe traveling to the library; besides for checking out a book for a science project, of course. Others simply do not have the time, transportation, or the knowledge of all the exciting things happening. The library is beginning to take notice of these obstacles and has come up with new ideas to attract teens. The public library is located at 106 Washington Avenue, just a couple of blocks from the Oshkosh transit center. Getting there by bus is both easy and affordable.

“In the past, we’ve offered free bus rides to the library during summer reading for those 18 and under,” said Katie Hedrington, head of teen services at the library. “We are looking at possibly offering that again this summer,” she said.

Several teens may ask, “Sure, it’s affordable, but why would I go?” Some of the summer activities include summer reading, a program in which participants read books for prizes such as books, gift certificates, and even DVD’s. Other activities include teen movie and game nights, giving teens a place to hang with friends, play Guitar Hero, and relax on a hot summer night. There are also activities year-round, which include a Teen Book Club and Teen Action Group (TAG). The Teen Book Club reads one book per month, and their April selection is Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher, a book soon to be made into a movie starring Taylor Lautner.

The Teen Action Group consists of teens who hope to influence the library’s decisions. The group meets once a month on a Saturday filled with pizza and discussion.

“During the meetings we talk about what teen books, music, and movies the library should be purchasing,” says Hedrington. “Just recently TAG was instrumental in the library’s decision to start buying video games.”

For those who just want a nice place to read or do homework, the public library is ideal. Complete with a separate section for young adult books, homework resources, and available computers, called OurSpace, the library offers a comfortable and safe place to study or just read up. Library cards are free and everyone is a potential recipient. Many teenagers do not like to read novels or look up antebellum traditions, and often classify themselves according to these uniform standards.

“I’m not really a library-type person,” said freshman Jack Binder.

There has been an ongoing stigma and stereotype associated with “library people.” But what really is a “library-type person”? At the public library, it is anyone and everyone. OurSpace offers music CD’s complete with a listening area, entitled “The Music Dome,” along with Wii, Xbox, and Kinect games, board games such as Battleship, and magazines picked especially for teens.

“If you don’t think of yourself as a reader, check out our collection of Manga and graphic novels,” said Hedrington.

For any potential or current leadership students, the public library offers volunteer opportunities, and a chance to get involved in the community. For students interested in teaching, or growing as a leader in their community, the library offers the opportunity to get started.

“The library also loves having teen volunteers,” said Hedrington, “especially during the summer months when we need lots of help with the Children’s Summer Reading Program.”

Hedrington suggests checking the library website, oshkoshpubliclibrary.org, for opportunities to help and other special events. Upcoming events include a TAG meeting on Saturday, April 16 at noon, and a Teen Book Club meeting on Friday, May 6 at 4:30 p.m. They are even found on Facebook and Twitter. The library holds wonderful resources, reading material, and educational activities, not to mention good music.

“Our hope is that our teen programs and materials will bring in new faces and introduce the next generation to all that the library can offer,” said Hedrington.

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