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  • October 2009
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The Utter importance of Library Teens

If you look at the end of this post, you’ll see I’m the Teen Librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh at Beechview, one of the libraries slated to close on February 1, 2010. I don’t want to bore or guilt you. (Although it would help, if you called the Mayor’s hotline at 311 to ask for more funding for libraries. )

No, I want to celebrate the wonderful people of our area who have and continue to work hard to keep libraries vital and viable, many of them teens. It warmed my heart to see teens I know come to the rally Chelsa Wagner held last Thursday and to see our the Pubjr. group, who met here this summer,  joined together for our cause. There are teens who offered to take petitions to their school or church and many who signed them.

Our volunteers are an awesome  bunch  who work hard to make sure every program runs smoothly and is fun for everyone. And best of all, they clean up our mess — often without prodding or hinting or us whining, too much. We like to think we make their day, too. There are friendships that have formed here, teens who ask, “Where’s so and so?” when they come in. Even though I throw up my hands and say, “I don’t know. They don’t live here, ”  a steady stream of their friends will  arrive soon afterwards.

If you haven’t seen the film our teens put together during this summer, don’t miss it now. I feel it’s pretty ironic, especially since all the teens who worked on it wanted to make a sequel next summer. Called “The Fellowship of the Library,” it’s available on YouTube: watch?v=R2tJCPu_YZg

It’s sad to think that 11 or 13-year-olds will either have to make their way to Dormont, which is difficult, or Brookline, which is nearly impossible, or rely on busy adults to take them to get to a library. It’s even worse for the teens who don’t have anyone that can get them there and are too young  to use public transport. I don’t want to think about how many kids are going to be hanging out in front of Foodland, where there’s noone to provide any guidance  or activities and where some adults are scared to see them in big groups. (Sadly, the customers of Foodland are not always as sensitized to teens as we are.)

A few more comments about how much teens mean to us and us to them:  Kids will often ask us, “How old do you have to be to be a volunteer”” or “How old do you have to be to work here?” We’re seen as a fun place to work and we’re often the first place where  our teen pages work for pay. So Ms. Janet and I feel we’ve launched a few careers and have known kids who are now working on research for cancer or getting their master’s degree in Music  or in ministry or playing  cello  in China with a youth symphony. I don’t know if those people would be where they are without our library but I do know they’ve meant a lot to us.

Tina Zubak – Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Beechview

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