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Peterborough library officials say needs of teens priority in new design

Union Leader Correspondent

January 12. 2018 12:19AM
A teen space created in the Peterborough Town Library's current open floor plan this summer would be more popular if it were separated from the rest of the library, one Peterborough teen says. (MEGHAN PIERCE/Correspondent)

PETERBOROUGH — Broadening services and programming for young adults is a priority in preparing designs for an $8.5 million building renovation that is coming before Peterborough voters this May, according to Library Director Corinne Chronopoulos.

The Peterborough Town Library recently held a teen focus group discussion for input on a planned dedicated “teen friendly” space.

The discussion drew 13 ConVal High School students who were given an overview of the library’s new design and then asked what they wanted to see in the new library.

“Providing space to meet, think, learn, collaborate and have fun is part of the library’s role in the community,” Chronopoulos said in a statement following the teen discussion. “The major take-away from this teen focus group is that the library is not just for resources, but also for the activities and experiences that take place there. Our teens expect a higher level of service than we have been able to provide, and they are ready for our library to join public libraries across the nation who have recognized teens deserve a dedicated space in the library and quality programs and services geared towards their needs.”

According to Chronopoulos, access to technology was “frequently and enthusiastically” mentioned during the discussion. Students want “good computer access, along with technologies like 3D printers, video editing, graphing calculators and Adobe and CAD software,” she said. “Equally important to the participants was having inviting and cozy study and socializing spaces.”

One of the teens, 17-year-old Katie Whitaker is a ConVal High School student and a part-time library employee.

“There was a lot of valuable input from everyone,” Whitaker said. “It’s also valuable for the teens to know that their input is being taken seriously. I think that will encourage them to come to the new space more than anything really, is that the library is listening to even some of their craziest suggestions that they have.”

Some of the craziest ideas included “every different type of chair imaginable,” a movie room complete with a popcorn machine, pets roaming the building and “a pond in the middle of it.”

“And every single idea was dutifully written down,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker said that although the library created a dedicated teen space in the current open floor plan this summer, the teens are often turned-off by adults using it. Whitaker said most teens who visit the library don’t stay long.

“... I think it’s not necessarily that the teens don’t want to use the library it’s that they don’t necessarily know it’s a resource that they have and that it’s a space that can actually be friendly toward them and not just a boring library.”

If approved this May the renovation project would begin this summer.

Peterborough Local and County Government

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