The Mars Area Public Library has been focusing on building improvements for the past several years. Paint, new lighting, door replacements, carpet installation, children's room furniture and a new roof have all been completed or are currently underway. Importantly, MAPL's next endeavour is to create a space specifically for the teens in our community.
As the Mars Area Public Library continues to move forward, we must realize that inviting, comfortable, and user-centered environments are integral in: 1) meeting the needs of all teens, 2) transforming the role and image of the library, and 3) contributing to successful community development. Libraries are essential informal learning spaces within communities that bridge the gap between the classroom and afterschool, and they provide an ideal environment for all teens to engage in connected learning activities—hands-on, teen-driven activities that enable teens to learn while exploring their passions and interests.
Understanding why an informal learning environment that specifically recognizes teen needs and interests is critical. Developing dedicated, attractive, motivating, and teen-oriented space creates a positive, safe environment for learning, socializing, and leisure activities. It is a way to outwardly and interactively acknowledge teens and their needs by supporting adolescent development, creating an environment which encourages emotional, social, and intellectual growth, and building a sense of teen belonging, community involvement, and appreciation of how a library fits into their day-to-day lives.
Creating an inviting and supportive teen space helps connect teens to library resources beyond what their initial visit or need might have been focused on. Once teens experience a welcoming environment, they will want to branch out and connect with other library resources, such as materials, programs, staff, volunteer coaches and experts, and peers. This deeper engagement with the library will help teens expand their knowledge and interests as well as help them develop an appreciation for the library as an essential part of the community.
Please consider supporting this important Mars Area Public Library community project by donating and sharing this campaign.
Caitlyn Boland, Library Director