Teens are facing an ever increasing variety of activities to occupy their time. Between sports, extra curricular activities and the rise of social media, teenagers now have more options vying for their attention than in previous generations. Local libraries are looking to keep the attention of young people through teen advisory boards.
Sherman and Denison have a shared public library system, but each features its own set of programs aimed at attracting teenagers.
Sherman has a group called SPLAT which stands for Sherman Public Library Advisory Team that consists of a group of teenagers that meet once a month at the library to provide input to the library staff on ways to encourage youth engagement.
The Denison Public Library is in the process of starting up its own youth advisory group called TAG or Teen Advisory Group. In each instance the stated goals of the respective library administrators is to offer opportunities for the teenagers in the community to have their voices heard about the types of activities and features the library could implement to encourage increased participation.
Sherman Youth Services Librarian Melissa Salazar said the SPLAT team meets once a month to share ideas with library staff. She said a lot of the teens are involved in the library as a way to earn volunteer hours for programs such as National Honors Society. She said the library puts out snacks to encourage attendance.
Denison Youth Services Librarian Deborah Wise said the goal for TAG is to gain additional input from teens in Denison. She said that the group is still in preliminary stages and recently called a meeting with area libraries from the Denison Independent School District to provide input. Wise said there is an application process for students to become involved in the group.
Salazar said the Sherman teens help plan activities and many volunteered for the summer reading program. She said there is currently about eight teens actively involved while there were as many as 40 participating in the summer reading program.
Wise said the Denison library hosts about 20 or so teens during a typical week with more in the summer months. Both librarians said their youth participation has been on the rise.
Salazar one of the more popular activities for teenagers is the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game meetings that take place on Thursdays. She said the activity has increased in popularity that the library is expanding the hours and dates it will be available. Wise said the number of individuals in Denison participating in that library’s role playing game sessions has also increased to the point it has been moved to a large space to accommodate the growth.
The libraries attract teens from all over the Texoma region, some even come down from Oklahoma. Salazar said there is a mix of public school and home school kids participating in the Sherman group. Wise said the Denison library is working closely with the schools to gauge interest. She said once everything gets up and running the meetings will take place at the middle school and high school campuses.
Sherman currently hosts its SPLAT meetings at the library. Denison is still in the planning stages for getting its up and running. Both libraries work closely together to provide access to resources to the general public.
What types of activities does your teenager want to see at the library? Let reporter Richard A. Todd know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.