OYAN Review: A Room of Their Own: Teens Get a New Space at The Dalles-Wasco County Library

This post is an article from the Spring 2017 issue of the OYAN Review and has been edited slightly for publication on the blog. It was written by Megan A. Hoak of The Dalles-Wasco County Library.

floor plan for a teen space in a public libraryThis summer, The Dalles-Wasco County Library will open a new teen area. This space has been specifically designed for students in 6th-12th grade. The library is utilizing a $40,000 Capacity Grant from Oregon Cultural Trust, in conjunction with matching funds from Google, in order to repurpose a 1,020 square foot section of the library’s second floor.

The library applied for the grant in April of 2016 after seeing an 87% increase in attendance at library programs for middle and high school students. This dramatic increase, along with the desire to help improve local high school graduation rates, served as the inspiration for this project.

Thick panels of sound-insulating glass will form the walls and doors of the space, so that tweens and teens can collaborate without disturbing other patrons. The new space will have four main areas: a study nook, a TV/video game lounge, a DIY Maker bar, and a digital media lab. The lab will feature equipment and software for movie making, sound recording, stop-motion animation, and digital artwork.

A photograph of students standing in front of a green screen. Two students are holding paint brushes and a number of them have paint smeared on their faces and clothes.The space will also have new floors, bookcases, furniture, and art, all of which will feature a steampunk/ industrial design aesthetic. The design was discussed and voted upon by the Teen Library Advisory Board members, who have also pitched in to keep costs down by reupholstering furniture and painting the “green screen” wall in the digital media lab.

“I think the teen room will definitely be an enhancement for the library,” said Sonja Jacobsen, a TLAB member. “Many teens in our community are already using the library as a place to study or hang out, and I feel the teen room, by giving them extra resources and a place of their own, will make them feel more welcome.”