A yearlong pursuit of updating the children and teen areas and adding a tween area to the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library is nearing completion.
Around this time last year, the Friends of the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library, approved the library staff’s wish list, and Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library Assistant Branch Manager and Youth Services Librarian, Anne Crawford, bought a very large Pete the Cat character rug for the children’s department. That addition then set off a series of improvements to the other youth areas.
The next move was to paint the children’s area in inviting yellow and blue tones to update the bland tan-colored walls that previously surrounded the area. Participants deliberately chose the colors to represent the sand and the surf to create a warm, beachy atmosphere to surround the kids even on a cold winter’s day, according to Crawford. The Youth Services Librarian is quick to point out that the improvements were a collaborative effort between herself, Branch Manager, Amy Ring, Reference Librarian, Joan Hakala, the generosity of the Friends of the Library and the creativity of the painters from the St. Johns County Facilities Maintenance Department.
Then, the staff’s attention turned to the adjacent room where, for the first time at the library, they were able to create an area just for tweens. Staff made space for the area through regular pruning, purging and rearranging of books, allowing a few bookshelves to be removed along with part of built-in desk area. The library purchased a neon-colored rug for the area the design on the rug was painted on the walls to designate the area. The space currently has colorful plastic chairs and tables that will be moved to the children’s area to replace the bean bag chairs once the black rocker chairs for the tween area arrive.
Rearranging also enabled the staff to double the size of the teen area when two whole bookshelves were able to be removed after Hakala consolidated the adult non-fiction bookshelves. The walls in the teen area also received a fresh coat of paint; the staff wanted to find a gender neutral color that would be inviting to all teens, so Ring came up with the idea of painting the walls bright orange with a purple zigzag pattern. Other purchases included new furniture for the teens with three high-top tables perfect for studying, doing homework or catching up on the latest reads, loungers and diner-style padded bench seating. The revamped area will be completely finished with the addition of a book display.
“We didn’t really start on this in earnest until probably May, so it’s taken a while for it to all come together but I think made a tremendous difference,” Crawford said. “I think it’s made just a huge difference in hopefully the message that we are conveying to children, tweens and teens, that we want you here and this is your space — places for you that we want you to enjoy. We don’t want you to simply just grab your books and leave, we want you to be able to feel free to hang out, enjoy and make friends, study — whatever you need to do,” she said. “I’m really excited to see what the teens and the kids and the tweens do with it in the summertime when they have a little bit more time.”
Teens, tweens and children are also invited to participate in the monthly programs offered by the library.
The monthly Teen Gaming Club nights (for teens ages 13-18) have been so popular that they will now be held two times per month — on the first Wednesday of every month and the third Saturday of every month from 2-4 p.m. starting Saturday, Jan. 16.
Tweens will also have a special event planned once a month with “What’s Up?” Wednesday on the second Wednesday of every month for ages 9-12. Topics will vary; the next “What’s Up?” Wednesday will take place Wednesday, Feb. 10 from 4-5 p.m. where tweens will have the opportunity to create Victorian valentines. Pre-registration is required.
Teens and tweens also have the opportunity to earn service hours at the library as “VolunTeens.” Applications for the program can be acquired at the reference desk. Teens will then meet one on one with Crawford, who is the VolunTeen coordinator, to discuss their interests and go over procedures.
Teen library volunteers can volunteer at the library without a parent or guardian present if they are between the ages of 14-17; twelve and 13-year-old volunteers must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The library has also just hired longtime library volunteer, Suzanne Egeln, known those who attend storytime as Ms. Suzanne. Egeln will begin her new position as Youth Services Assistant starting in February. A few changes and expansions in light of her hiring will also take place beginning in February.
The “Just for Babies” storytime will now be held every week, instead of the second and fourth weeks of the month, on Thursdays at 10:15 a.m., Bedtime Storytime will be presented by Ms. Suzanne in the Children’s Department and will be held the third Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m., and every Family Storytime will now culminate with a craft.
The library is located at 101 Library Blvd. Hours are Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The library is closed on Sundays. For more information, call (904) 827-6950 or visit www.sjcpls.org.