Library draws in teens with teen-led advisory group

The Lebanon Public Library has been enticing more teenagers to utilize the library after creating a Teen Advisory Group (TAG).

“Teens don’t typically come to the library just to come,” Library Assistant Julie Tibbetts said. “We’ve always had a very low percentage of teens using the library and coming to programs. It’s easier for teens to get teens into the library.”

Teen Coding Club leader Lorelai Fosselman, left, navigates coding work on a laptop while Kaz Dunn and Helen Rounsavell watch.

TAG was a function the library staff had been wanting to start for a while, Tibbetts said, so they began by inviting their Summer Reading Program teen volunteers to join. The advisory group began in September 2022 starting with members Kaz Dunn, Lorelai Fosselman, Abigail Ghio, and Helen Rounsavell, and later added two more members.

“We are mainly focused on making the library more teen-focused,” 15-year-old Rounsavell said. “We run different clubs, we host teen-centered events, and try and make sure the teen section of the library is super inviting and fun.”

Dunn, 15, said TAG currently organizes science and craft events from time to time, but they also host a book club and poetry club, plus new clubs for American Sign Language (ASL) and coding.

“We’ve had our best numbers since the TAG has taken over and kinda had their own ideas,” Tibbetts said.

In addition to hosting fun programs for teen involvement, the advisory group contributes by helping with displays, shelving books and stocking personal care supplies in the youth bathroom.

“I love TAG because I get to hang out with fun people all the time and I get to just, like, do my best to do something for the community,” Dunn said. “In Lebanon, there’s not a lot to do for teenagers, so it’s nice to be able to do something.”

Rounsavell agreed, stating they’ve met a lot of interesting people through the activities.

“I don’t go to public school, so I don’t have many opportunities to socialize specifically with teenagers, and that’s a lot of what we do here,” Rounsavell said. “We gather teenagers with common interests, and then everybody can meet and socialize. It’s really nice to get to reach out into our community and get more involved, especially with the library because Julie is just amazing.”

Teens play on their phone, snack, talk and work on a craft project while “Alice in Wonderland” plays on a TV during a special library-hosted teen night on Jan. 25.

Tibbetts is responsible for providing a Nintendo Switch at the library for teens, which has drawn some kids in, and the library has begun offering the occasional movie-and-craft night. Reese King attended the most recent movie night on Jan. 25 when the library hosted the original Disney Alice in Wonderland movie complete with tea and scones, and a terrarium craft project. King said she tends to like themed events like that, and she’d like to see more craft events.

With the library’s own teen-centered project in addition to TAG events, Tibbetts said she’s seen a “definite” increase in teen attendance at programs.

“The momentum keeps going,” Tibbetts said. “We just hope it continues.”