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Libraries offer teens a plethora of activities and programs

August 30, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Lee County Library System has enhanced its teen programs, as well as offers a Teen Advisory Group for youths to gain service hours.

Youth Services Programming Coordinator Amy Jane McWilliam said they began offering more programs for teenagers at both Cape Coral Lee County Public Library and Northwest Regional Library when it came to their attention that teens were looking for more information about getting better grades, what tests needed to be taken for college and how to accumulate volunteer hours.

She said that teens could not get volunteer hours for such things as scholarships because of the need for transportation, or because they could not meet a specific age requirement.

As a result, the Lee County Public Library system reduced its age requirement for volunteers.

"Now teens who have finished eighth grade can volunteer at the library. Those positions are a few at each branch," she said.

The teens have to fill out an application and make a commitment to come in a few hours a week.

"They get that work experience of being inside of the library and seeing all the cool things we do inside the library," McWilliam said.

From there, a Teen Advisory Group developed taking into account that they needed to include kids in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. The library partners with local agencies and nonprofits that need something done, or are asking the advisory group to do a project for them, which is done at the library.

"The organization will speak to the kids, so kids are learning about other services in the community. They complete the project there (library) and get service hours," McWilliam said.

So far TAG has helped in making blankets for Project Linus, placemats for Meals on Wheels and cards for the military for the holidays.

Youths involved in TAG at the Northwest Regional Library will begin making Halloween masks for residents living in assisted living facilities in September.

"Little things like that are making a difference in the community," McWilliam said.

The library system is looking for organizations and agencies they can partner with who are in need of help with projects. McWilliam said those projects can be as simple as stuffing envelopes.

Those interested in becoming involved in TAG, can call McWilliam at (239) 533-4808

Both of the libraries received a grant last year for TAG, which helps with funding for the supplies they might need to complete the project. For example, last year they purchased the fleece to make the blankets.

The next scheduled TAG meeting at Northwest Regional Library will be held at 4:15 p.m. Sept. 6 and at Cape Coral Lee County Library Sept. 24 at 4:30 p.m.

TAG is open for all sixth through 12th grade students.

"The September program will be the first for Northwest since the end of the school year. A lot of programming is based around middle and high school hours. They have a built in audience all the time," she said.

TAG has been popular among teenagers because they are not only looking for projects to do to receive service hours, but to make a better impact on the world, McWilliam said.

"This is their way to doing some good," she said.

In addition, a large maker movement is taking place, which participants enjoy doing because they are learning while making things with their hands.

"They are also doing something better for the community," McWilliam said.

The Cape Coral Lee County Library recently brought on a new teen librarian, who moved from the Lehigh Acres branch right before the beginning of the summer. McWilliam said the librarian does a lot of pop culture type of programming, as well as more intergenerational programming.

An example of an intergenerational program will take place Saturday, Oct. 6, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. with "Interactive Movie: Moana".

The program is fun because everyone is given a script.

"Whenever something happens in the movie the audience reacts a certain way. It's a lot of fun because it's group participation," McWilliam said.

The library is also starting a book club for 11- to 18-year-olds, Thursday, Sept. 6, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Teens will discuss "Cinder" by Marissa Meyer.

Other activities include monthly gaming programs, which will include a giant board game for Oregon Trail.

"She does a lot of really active, formal scheduled programming. She is trying to get teens to come into the library," McWilliam said.

Northwest Regional Library, on the other hand, gets up to 100 kids every day after school, due to its location. McWilliam said the librarian has found that the teenagers enjoy participating in activities, as well as hanging out with their friends after school.

"There are also board games available all the time. Between 1:30 and 6 there is always something going on in the teen zone," she said.

Northwest Regional Library does not offer many formal calendar programs because the librarian focuses on being available for the crowd that enters the library.

"She came in at the end of May as well. She's getting a feel for the afterschool program and will beef up the programs based on need," McWilliam said. "Things are really looking up, especially for children and teen programs. It's nice to have an energized staff. It's great for staff moving around . . . there's a whole new energy being brought in as well."

The Cape Coral Lee County Public Library is at 921 SW 39th Terrace.

The Northwest Regional Library is at 519 Chiquita Blvd N.

For more information visit .



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