A poster hangs by the front desk in the Rockridge Library titled “What Does This Library Mean to You?” Scattered with public responses written on post-it notes, the poster is the work of the Teen Advisory Board (TAB), the onsite group that represents the teen demographic at the Rockridge branch of the Oakland Public Library.
It is commonly thought that libraries are only sanctuaries for little children, who flock to story times, and older adults, who utilize networking resources. However, the teen presence at Rockridge Library is not only prominent, but also fierce and passionate.
TAB exemplifies this sentiment as, amongst other lingering teens in the library’s dedicated “Teenzone,” this group of middle and high school students from the Rockridge area meets monthly to talk, plan, and act. In these pizza and idea loaded meetings, members discuss not only possible events for the group, like outings and summits with other TABs from around Oakland, but also possible events for the community.
Planning Creative Writing Clubs and maintaining the resources for gaming that the branch boasts, Rockridge TAB has straddled the many passions and ideas of its members. The “What Does This Library Mean To You?” poster, hung up in April in celebration of National Library Week, was a culmination of a discussion regarding the many aspects of the library that benefit the public.
As a group, we discussed that the library to us means not just access to books, but also a meeting place to socialize and acquire valuable resources. The public responses we received on our poster justify this belief, as people used the words “power,” “sustenance,” and “community” when sharing what this space means to them. The library can in fact have something for anyone and everyone.
In the future, the Rockridge Teen Advisory Board hopes to create more spaces for teens to engage with each other and explore personal passions, furthering young people’s collective ability to become advocates for themselves and their community. After all, TAB relies on the idea that the library is not only provided for the people, but built by those same individuals as well.
Jorja Siemons is the chair of the Teen Advisory Board.