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Personal Project: The impact of teens at the Eagle Rock Library

Photo by Mia Schrier

A highlight of growing up in a small neighborhood like Eagle Rock is the constant sense of a tight-knit community that goes along with it. We truly have it all: from parks to cafes to boutiques and schools and a diverse range of small businesses and restaurants, everything feels like the epitome of local. I, for one, have lived here my whole life; I went to school at Eagle Rock Elementary, took music and dance lessons just up the street, and have frequented so many of our local establishments that they know my family by name. And yet, amongst all these amenities, one of the things I’m most appreciative of growing up with is the Eagle Rock Public Library. When I was younger I spent an immeasurable amount of summer afternoons among its bookshelves, completing book reports and homework assignments there, and now as a high school student, I volunteer there and use it as a space to disconnect from my phone and reconnect with my love of reading. The library is a true haven in our neighborhood that I realized, with the uproar of Kindles and audiobooks, can get overlooked by other people my age. As a tenth grader, I naturally turned this passion into the base concept for my personal project, so consider this a PSA that the library has so much to offer you if you’re just willing to wonder! 

 Since I started volunteering at the library some months ago I knew I would want to write about the library, as from what I’ve viewed, it’s an insanely undervalued resource that truly deserves more appreciation for the wealth of knowledge it brings our community. While many of my peers assume this solely comes from its wide array of books, after sitting down with Young Adult Librarian III, Patsy Pinedo Tuck, the library has so much more to offer (especially to us high schoolers). She is in charge of teen services at our branch, basically meaning she’s in charge of giving us a voice in the choice of the teen collection of materials offered and she oversees the volunteer program as well as the teen council and everything in between. These alongside Teens Leading Change are the three core programs offered, and they all intend to offer a role of leadership in the library to anyone ages 11-18.

Photo by Ryan Schude

Many, including myself, are involved in these programs as a fun way to gain volunteer experience and hours for college

applications, but these programs truly give a platform to teenagers in the community who want to spread a message. I find joy if I can help even one patron find a book they’re looking for or recommend one, but you can make a difference on a much larger scale by starting a teen’s leading change project. The last one took place in 2020 and focused on informing members of the community about voter rights, but the possibilities are endless!

Not the volunteering type? They offer programs for your own benefit like the Get Ready for College workshops, craft making, and music events scheduled on the regular, and during summer there are reading challenges. If you’re more interested in the library for personal or daily use, Patsy has you covered there too. She’s currently working on expanding the teen area of the library; it already has bean bags and computers, but she’d love to make it even more vibrant so if you have any suggestions feel free to stop by and let her know at the library’s help desk!

Photo by Mostyn Trudinger-Smith

Another area of the library is the Student Zone which offers laptops, free printing, online tutoring, and even more couches. I find that getting out of the house to do homework can make me even more concentrated, and a refreshing change of scenery can improve productivity immensely, so if you ever have a big test to study for or a project you left for the last minute, check it out! Not to mention, students are automatically registered with a student success library card that allows them to freely check out books, DVDs, and more with a guarantee of no fines, so it’s a key to an incomprehensible amount of knowledge and experience.

So, I can’t force you to visit the library, but I can assure you that if you do, you’ll find something meaningful from the experience. Whether it be a new favorite book, a studying location, or a platform to explore something important to you, the library gives power to all voices, and as teenagers, it's so important to make yourself present in your community to create a good reputation, build your people skills and find purpose beyond school. There’s something so empowering about the sheer amount of opportunities available to even just a teenager at the library. At the library, it is recognized that you are the future generation and you are welcomed and allowed to contribute to something beyond yourself; in the words of your very own local teen services librarian, “Your opinions matter and are heard here, you make the community vibrant”—so why wouldn’t you take advantage of such an amazing space.

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Reda Rountree
Reda Rountree
5 days ago

What a great article, Lily! My sister is a librarian, so I know the importance of public libraries in our community. I’m so happy you wrote this, I hope it encourages more people to go!

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