Summit County Library aims to attract teens
July 10, 2015
Most libraries have a tough time reaching teens and the reasons vary.
A majority of teens are busy developing their social lives and want to hang out with friends. Another reason is the lack of teen programs facilitated by libraries. There are plenty of toddler story times and family rhyme times, but libraries have a hard time coming up activities for those between the ages of 13 and 17 — until now.
The Summit County Library system, which includes branches at Kimball Junction, Kamas and Coalville, have come up with a program called Unmask Your Story, said Liz Gabbitas, the Kamas Branch clerk.
"The goal is to get teenagers to work on creative projects of their own over the summer,’ Gabbitas told The Park Record. "We will then put these projects into a book, which will be a compilation of all of their summer projects, or things they’ve worked on in the past whatever they are excited about."
The plan is to release the book at a party at the Kimball Junction Branch on Aug. 21.
"The public is welcome to the party and we will invite the teens’ parents, families and friends," Gabbitas said. "We have also invited some special guests as well and we will have a red carpet for the kids."
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To help the teens with their projects, each branch debuted studio kits that can be checked out.
"We want to provide the tools for these teens to work on their different creative projects," Gabbitas said. "Many of these kids have a hard time working on any project during the summer because they don’t have access to art supplies and things like that."
The studio kits contain basic drafting supplies, including pencils, protractor and ruler sets, charcoals and paper.
"These are all designed to help the teens get started on a project," Gabbitas explained. "We wish we could have included more, but if, by chance, this program takes off and becomes really popular, we may be able to expand the kits."
Any teen who is at least 13 years old, up to recent high-school graduates, can stop by any Summit County Library branch to register and check out a studio kit.
"These are available to any teen, including those who don’t have a library card, and they can sit down and work on their projects at the library," Gabbitas said. "When they sign up, they will also receive a USB flash drive so they can save their projects."
Teens can turn in their projects via USB drives by July 31 at midnight and the libraries’ staffs will compile the images into the book.
"The projects can also be submitted in different ways," Gabbitas said. "The teens can bring in hard copies and we can scan and digitize them, or they can submit their projects online.
"I know some teens are working on novels," she said. "So we will work with them to see what we can include, whether it will be a chapter of the novel or a page or something similar."
Even large-scale projects can be included in the book, according to Gabbitas.
"I heard that a boy who uses one of the other branches is building a welding sculpture and will take photos of his work for the book," she said.
The idea for the studio kits and art book bloomed out of the need to attract teens to the libraries.
"The Summit County Library system hasn’t done many teen programs before, and we weren’t too sure we wanted to start up another ‘books are cool’ program," Gabbitas said. "So, I talked with the teens that did come into the Kamas Branch to find out what they were excited about."
These kids told Gabbitas about art projects they had been working on in art classes before the school year ended for the summer.
Some were working on visual arts like large sculptures and paintings and others were writing novels.
"To hear that they were casually writing novels over their summer break was amazing to me," Gabbitas said. "All of the teens I talked with have big ambitions and like to immerse themselves into these creative projects, so I thought about how the library could encourage them to continue their creativity."
The branches formed their own teen advisory boards that meet every other month and they were instrumental in developing the studio kits and book project.
"The importance of libraries now isn’t just to be a depository of knowledge as they are to be a depository of resources," Gabbitas said. "It’s our job to provide people with the tools to further their life skills and prepare them for their careers or hobbies.
"Many of those resources can be found in books, and that’s what libraries are known for, but there are other tools that are also important and that’s what is happening today," she said. "I think it’s important for us to get teens involved with the libraries. This is exciting for us and we hope that more teens will sign up to show that a program like this is necessary and we can keep it going in the future."
For more information about the Unmask Your Story project, visit http://bit.ly/1eJOVhO or call the Kimball Junction Branch at 435-615-3900, the Coalville Branch at 435-336-3070 or the Kamas Branch at 435-783-3190.
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