Local teenagers now have a place to call their own in Burns Lake.
The Burns Lake Public Library has established a room strictly for teenagers, hoping this will serve as a safe space for them while helping attract more of this demographic to the library.
“A lot of things happen in the library where we say, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if…’ so this was one of those situations; we asked, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had a room just for teens to hang out in the library?’” explained library director Sashka Macievich.
“There wasn’t really a place for teenagers where they felt comfortable,” she continued. “A lot of teens feel they don’t have a safe place to go.”
According to library board member Jennifer Peterson, the new space will give local teenagers a sense of ownership.
“In our community, there’s no place for a teen to go where they don’t have to buy anything,” she said. “It’s nice to have a safe place for them that’s free.”
The library’s new teen room is equipped with computers, tables and book shelves; the walls were repainted with vibrant colours and the flooring was replaced – all thanks to a $5000 donation from the Burns Lake and District Community Foundation, as well as volunteer labour.
Macievich said the teen room’s planning process has had a positive impact on the entire library since it made staff rethink the library’s design.
“It created a monster, but it was a good monster,” said Macievich.
In addition, she says the new teen space, which is located upstairs, allows the downstairs area of the library to be more kid friendly, since teenagers no longer hang out in that spot.
She added that teenagers have been an important demographic for the Burns Lake Public Library.
“The teen materials have the highest growth every year, not just in the electronic categories, but in the paper categories. Teens are coming in every day and requesting specific items and it’s fabulous; we have an excellent selection of these materials.”
The library’s teen advisory group, comprised of teenagers between 13 and 16 years old who meet every few months to offer input into the types of programming and materials provided by the library, also offered input into the new room. Macievich said it was important to gather their input before establishing the new space.
“Most adult library users were library users as children and teens,” she said. “These are the people that are going to be using the library in the future, and they will be the leaders in our community.”