Teen Advisory Board encourages involvement in local library

The Monticello library Teen Advisory Board was established in December as a way to get teens, grades 6th through 12th, interested and involved in their city library. The group suggests materials for kids their age and plans programs for other teens. Showing off their favorite books and movies are Mya Postel, Ryanna Devaney, Danielle Ellison, Brandon Ellison, Logan Baugh, Gavin Baugh, and Librarian MaDonna Thoma-Kremer. Absent from photo is Deeanna Pumphrey. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

   Monticello teenagers are becoming more invested in their community.

     Over the winter, a new group formed at the Monticello Public Library in an effort to engage teens in the life of a city library.

     The Teen Advisory Board, overseen by Librarian MaDonna Thoma-Kremer, formed in December. The group consists of a core group of seven to eight teens, grades sixth through 12, who help make decisions regarding teen programming at the Monticello library.

     Thoma-Kremer said other libraries have teen advisory groups, and she thought it would be a good fit for the Monticello library.

     The board meets on a monthly basis to discuss teen events/programming. They also make suggestions in terms of books and movies they think the library should get, all geared toward their age group.

     “We want to offer programming that’s interesting to their age group versus shooting in the dark,” explained Thoma-Kremer. “So they suggest ideas and we adjust to something we can accommodate.”

     The group also has a teen book club that meets to discuss popular books youth are currently reading.

     “We read the same book, give feedback, and rate it,” explained Teen Advisory Board member Logan Baugh, eighth grade. “Sometimes we’ll pick our own (book) and recommend it to others.”

     The book club meets once a month during the school year, and will continue to meet throughout the summer. It is open to all teens in grades sixth through 12th. Their next book discussions will be held on April 10 and May 15.

     Thoma-Kremer said since starting the group, attendance at teen programming has increased. Those already active on the board invite their friends at school and word spreads. For instance, the Oreo Cookie Tasting event had over 20 attendees.

     “A lot of times it was hit or miss,” said Thoma-Kremer of how many would show up for programming. “We think, ‘It could have been a lot better. What will bring them in?’”

     The Teen Advisory Board gives input following each event in terms of what worked and what didn’t work. “Input drives to better results,” added Thoma-Kremer.

     Since the group started, the teens have planned a wide array of events:

     • Oreo Cookie Tasting

     • Escape Room Challenge

     • Paracord bracelet craft

     • Interactive movie nights (held after the library closes)

     • Game days

     • Karaoke (after hours)

     • Video game night

     • End of summer teen party

     • Life-sized boards games

     Before each event, the group meets to delegate responsibilities. Thoma-Kremer said having the teens step up frees up the staff.

     Some of the crafts the group comes up with stem from their own personal interest and abilities. The paracord bracelet craft on March 20 was the brainchild of Teen Advisory member Brandon Ellison, who’s in 10th grade.

     “I introduced the idea at our last meeting and told MaDonna I make these at home,” Ellison said as the group demonstrated the concept.

     “We use their expert talents with different programs and crafts,” added Thoma-Kremer.

     The teens also volunteer their time for other library events, assisting the younger kids during craft days, or helping at adult programs.

     “It helps us fill volunteer opportunities,” said Thoma-Kremer. It also allows the teens to include their volunteer time as part of their Silver Service hours for graduation.

     Thoma-Kremer said she’s seen the teens become mentors and role models through their involvement in the library.

     Since the Teen Advisory Board came together, Thoma-Kremer said they’ve seen new teen-age faces coming into the library and attending events.

     “A lot of them are not just our regular patrons,” she said.

     The group also expands the teens’ social circle, with middle school and high school students coming together for a common goal.

     “We’d love to see more high schoolers,” urged Thoma-Kremer. “We want to create an interest in the library, and hope that it builds into high school.”

     Thoma-Kremer said she’s proud of the ownership the advisory board has shown toward the library.

     “It impacts what we’re doing and what we’re offering,” she said.

     Thoma-Kremer praises the teens for actively promoting the teen events at the library. They pass out fliers at school and hang posters in the hallways.

     “They make sure the word is out there,” she said. “They’re helping to transform the library, and how teens view the library.”

     To learn more about the Teen Advisory Board and all of the events and activities planned, stop in the Monticello Public Library.


Why did you join the Library Teen Advisory Board?

“I joined because when I look around the library, all I see are kids on their electronics, not reading. Books are helpful. Kids don’t think about reading anymore.” (Logan Baugh, 8th grade)

“I joined for something to do versus sitting at home all day. It gets me out and doing something.” (Danielle Ellison, 8th grade)

“I joined because I like the thought of actually being able to put my ideas out there and actually do something. I have a choice on what happens at the library.” (Brandon Ellison, 10th grade)



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