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Go Ask Frances

Teen Appeals To Peers: Library More Than A Jungle Of Books

By Frances Fedele

Special to the GPHC

Frances Fedele, outside the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. last month. Photo by Tracy Canada, Park Hill librarian.

The Park Hill Library has been a social hub for the entire neighborhood. From baby storytimes to adult winter book clubs, inhabitants of the Park Hill neighborhood can be seen at the library. One group is often under-represented: teenagers.

Though there are many young adults that come to the library, there is still a distinct lack of people from the ages of 14 to 18.

As the teen summer intern for the Park Hill Library, the fact that so few people ages 14-18 show up to library events makes it harder to evaluate what needs to be done to help reel in teens to the library. Many friends of mine claim that the sole reason they don’t go to the library is because they don’t enjoy reading. However, the library is more than just a jungle of books.

The Park Hill Library, at Montview Boulevard and Dexter Street, is equipped with computers and other non-book related items, and most of the teen library programs do not revolve around one’s willingness to read. The good news is that the senior librarian at Park Hill, Tara Williamson, and I are planning a Teen Community Talk at the library at the beginning of the school year. It will be awesome to get feedback on the teen programs the Park Hill library has to offer.

The Teen Community Talk is just one part of the project I have planned for this summer internship. Thanks to the Public Library Association (PLA), I have been given the chance to work among the Park Hill library staff as if I were an actual employee. The goals of the PLA summer internship program is to reach out to teens who are interested in pursuing library careers, as well as teens who want to focus on ways to positively benefit their community. The internship is a great opportunity for me and the other 51 interns across the United States. While this may be the first time the PLA has offered this internship, the people I have met during the opening meeting in Washington D.C. all seem to be prepared to give it their all.

Each summer intern is supposed to prepare and execute a project that positively affects their community. These projects vary from massive, citywide changes, to the revival of a local small town community garden. I have chosen to base my project around teen programming, with a goal of finding out why teens are not often seen at programs.

Aside from the upcoming Teen Community Talk, I have put together an AP Book Club for teens who want to get ahead on their summer reading assignments, as well as a small book suggestion program dubbed “Go Ask Frances,” which happens every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Park Hill Library. Though it is my utmost hope that both programs will flourish, I am well prepared for either one them to flop. Sadly, program failure is one of the many speed bumps faced by librarians.

The PLA summer intern program had also connected me to people around the United States, and not all of them are from big cities such as Denver. During the opening meeting in Washington D.C. this summer, I met two interns from a small town in West Virginia. Since I’ve always lived in a big city, it was crazy to hear about how this town has just one library in it, and that this library is run by just one librarian, who has to be a jack of all trades.

I always thought that Park Hill Library was one of the smaller libraries in the Denver Public Library system, but things were really put into perspective when I thought about how even Park Hill has a minimum of two circulation clerks at the front desk, two reference librarians on either side of the building, and a handful of shelvers and volunteers. It was really cool to talk to these two interns and discuss the differences in libraries, as well as general life.

So far, this summer internship has been pretty great, and I have learned a great deal about not only the library and how it runs, but also about how jobs work after one has finished school. Involvement in the library is something one should always do because of its ability to lead you to things that can benefit your future. The Teen Advisory Board at Park Hill (meetings are every other Tuesday at 6 p.m.) is just one example of this. Participation can be used on job and college applications, and there is a better chance of getting the job with experience in the library.

I encourage all teens to try out TAB, or volunteering at the library, since it can be so beneficial and fun. I will be putting out updates on the Denver Public Library website, and if anyone is interested in any of my summer programs, as well as TAB, you can visit the website, or better yet, mosey on over to your local library.

Frances Fedele has lived in Park Hill nearly four years and will be entering her senior year at East High School.

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