New Teen Space at West Vancouver Memorial Library opens

Teens in West Vancouver led the way for creating a new teen space. Their vision comes alive with the opening of Room 14 at West Vancouver Memorial Library on March 6.

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Teens in West Vancouver led the way for creating a new teen space, and this Wednesday their vision comes alive with the opening of Room 14 at West Vancouver Memorial Library

Shannon Ozirny, head of WVML Youth Services, says it's important for teens to have places where they feel inspired, and Room 14 is designed to provide that. "It's a new space in our community where teens can create and connect. They can do work like putting together a digital portfolio for a university application, play around with a video they've taken on a smart phone, or simply hang out and study with friends. Room 14 is a welcoming space that offers all of these things and more," says Ozirny.

Key stakeholders, including teens who participated in the consultation process, Mayor and Council, Library Board trustees, Library Foundation directors, and School District 45 board trustees will be the first to test out the room's multicoloured and oversized bean bags and hang out in the space's five zones at the grand opening on Wednesday.

"It's terrific that the teens are shepherding our library into a new era. They have created a place, a home away from home, where they can come and gather, build their community, and build themselves," says District of West Vancouver Councillor and Library Board trustee Craig Cameron.

"The West Vancouver Memorial Library has a long-standing tradition of ensuring that every child in our community has an equal opportunity to succeed in school and throughout life. Our teens have done a fabulous job of designing their space to support their learning and personal growth in our rapidly changing environment," says Library Board chair Kirsty Farquharson.

West Vancouver students in grades 6 to12 guided the vision and led the way in the planning of their 21st century library. WVML engaged teens through a three-phase consultation process in which 391 students, almost 10 per cent of 11- to18-year-olds in West Vancouver, participated.

First, the Library conducted a survey and held focus groups and one-on-one interviews with teens. Then, the Library brought in a firm that specializes in community-led design so teens could work with artists to depict the kinds of activities they saw themselves doing in the space, as well as the look and feel of the room. Finally, the Library held a colour workshop with an interior designer for the teens to come up with their preferences for fabrics and paint.

Room 14 has the technology teens need for both for school assignments and pursuing their own projects and passions. This means lots of outlets for devices, free and fast wireless internet, as well as computers that support digital content creation. Using software that can manipulate graphics and sounds, teens can produce materials with images and audio as well as more traditional text formats. Room 14 also gives teens the chance to showcase their digital creations on a 55" multifunctional monitor that can be connected to laptop or tablets.

Funding for the project was generously contributed by the West Vancouver Memorial Library Foundation and the District of West Vancouver. Proceeds from WVML Foundation's successful 2011 gala fundraiser A Passport to Italy and a $10,000 donation from Dr. Arjang Nowtash helped make the project a success.

More About Room 14
In Room 14, space is allocated to reflect a balance between physical and digital collections and study and social spaces. The room has five zones: a hangout area and a group study area in the center, individual study area and computer terminals on each side, a fiction reading nook and a meeting room designed to maximize the space's natural light. The book and DVD collections, which the teens rated as their primary reason for coming to the Library, are around the perimeter of the room.

WVML's expert staff are on hand to assist teens in learning how to navigate and evaluate resources to the find the best information, as well as what technology to use to best communicate their work.

The UBC iSchool (School of Library, Archival and Information Studies) recently interviewed Director of Library Services Jenny Benedict and Youth Services Department Head Shannon Ozirny for a video profile of WVML's forward-thinking services to youth. 

About the WVML Youth Department
The Youth Services Department is committed to ensuring that all youth in our community have an equal opportunity to build literacy skills, to progress successfully through the school years, and to transition into the work force equipped for lifelong learning. Teens play a variety of valuable roles in the department through two volunteer programs: the Teen Advisory Group (TAG) and the Teen Volunteer program. The teens involved in TAG provide ideas for programs and collection purchases, as well as facilitating family movie matinee events. Youth involved with the Teen Volunteer program shelve books, shelf-read, assist librarians with special projects and act as Book Buddies to struggling readers in Grades 1-7.

About West Vancouver Memorial Library
West Vancouver Memorial Library connects people with ideas, information and the world of imagination. The Library attracts nearly 45,000 people to our facility and 32,000 to our website each month and circulates over 1 million items annually. The Library's vision is to be recognized as the leader in navigating information, and as a dynamic space that inspires discovery and connection.

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