More than 50 hours of service a week from VolunTeens (teen library volunteers) alone have been logged at the Ponte Vedra Beach Library.
“They are amazing and do so much for us, but I wanted to take this month to focus in on a particular teen program that has been in existence for 5 Â½ years,” says Anne S. Crawford, assistant branch manager, youth services librarian & VolunTeen Coordinator
SpotlightingÂ Teen Gaming Nights, Crawford notes “when we first started these gaming nights back in January 2010, shortly after I came to this branch library from the Anastasia Island Branch Library, our first two or three gaming nights yielded a small crew:Â me, Lisa Barnett (PV High School Media Specialist), and an 11-year-old. We could have given up, but we didnâ€™tâ€¦and thank goodness! Flash forward to now and we regularly see between 15 â€“ 20 attendees at these events, sometimes as high as 25 attendees! Weâ€™ve even been generously supported, in addition to our Friends of the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library who make these events possible, by a local PV Dad who works for Sony and envisioned gaming nights as a safe, welcoming place for teens his son could someday join. That, in and of itself, is amazing.
“But whatâ€™s truly remarkable â€“ especially to me, a Youth Services Librarian of 12 years for St. Johns County Public Library System, is the VolunTeen effort is keeping these Teen Gaming Nights alive. Set-up and clean-up is extensive as is publicizing these events in such a way that new teens always want to come. These events are completely teen-run with me acting more as a facilitator because the level of ownership by the VolunTeens is so very strong.
“Due to VolunTeens like Bryan Martins, Kelsey White, Sean Murphy, Kierin Keith, and Zeryn Inman in particular, these programs have teen leadership in making sure everything is set-up, cleaned-up, run smoothly, and with new teen attendees recruited, even when the library cannot staff these programs ourselves! Kelsey and Bryan graduated and passed the torch to Sean who just graduated this May and passed the torch to Zeryn. These teens care about Teen Gaming Nights because they provide exactly what Sean Coleman knew they would:Â a safe, fun, welcoming place for teens to hang out, have fun, and make new friends!
“Some libraries have teen volunteers; some do not. Many have teen volunteers who come in, earn service hours, and are done â€“ and the library is a great place to accomplish that goal. Whatâ€™s truly heartwarming is when teen volunteers decide to keep volunteering, sometimes all the way up until they graduate, because they truly like the experience and want to help the library. But what truly blows my mind is when teens volunteer past their service hours, through graduation, and come back from college of their own volition to continue helping! Bryan, Kelsey, and Amy Patrick are all examples of this and a testament that libraries arenâ€™t something you outgrow, but instead a place you can always return and be welcomed back gladly.”