An oasis of learning at the El Dorado County Library’s Placerville branch finds students gathering the second Tuesday of each month to have fun while learning and at the same time grab some credit that will look great on college entrance applications and job résumés.
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The Teen Library Council not only encourages reading but has a goal of helping out in the community and garnering experience that will help later in life.
At a recent meeting, more than half-a-dozen kids met in the council room at the library, 345 Fair Lane in Placerville. The meeting began with agenda items that included a Ninja challenge: alphabet noodle game, demonstrating that the learning that goes on here is accompanied by fun and entertainment.
Part of a nationwide program of Teen Library Councils, Placerville has been offering the opportunity to kids age 12 to 17 for two years now.
Cameron Park is just beginning a teen council and the program also is offered in El Dorado Hills.
The crew on hand at this month’s gathering in Placerville said they are glad to give to the community and appreciate the chance to brighten up their own futures.
“We recently hung up CDs in the teen area of the library and the photo contest wasn’t too long ago,” said Abbi Purciel. “The teen council is great.”
More than a job
“And they get sweet letters of recommendation from Jan,” laughed Jan Robbins, who runs the teen program for the county library. Robbins is the children’s librarian and has been with the library for 11 years now. She said she is rewarded with more than a paycheck from her role assisting the Teen Library Council.
“I’ve just always loved working with this age group,” Robbins began. “What they get from the program is building skills that will help them later on in the workforce. They’ve been so helpful to the library itself, volunteering to work at shelving books and it actually could be a stepping stone to a career in library arts.”
Robbins said the most rewarding aspect of the job for her is “seeing the kids’ confidence grow.”
“Last year, for example, we did a ‘flash mob’ inside the library, with the kids coming out one by one reciting their ‘Ode to the Library.’ There were about 20 people in the library at the time, and they all just loved it.”
Robbins said not all the members of the teen council participated in the flash mob but even those who didn’t wish to speak up during the event handled props to make the spectacle even more memorable.
In 2013, the 28 teens on the council volunteered a total of 906 hours to the county library, Robbins added.
In addition, members of the Teen Library Council accomplished several other worthy tasks, such as judging a Teen Read Week bookmark contest, created holiday decorations for the teen area in the library, assisted school students during a library tour, aided library staff on the Bookmobile during school visits and judged entries for the Teen Digital Photo Contest.
Members of the council also are greatly appreciated for their help at the annual Kids’ Expo at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds.
“The teens are amazing,” said Robbins, “and we thank them.”
Abbi Purciel’s younger brother, Caleb, 12, said he joined the Teen Library Council “mostly because it sounded really cool,” adding that his sister prompted him to join the fun.
Emily Gudeman, 15, agreed that joining up was a positive move for her.
“I would tell other teens to definitely join,” said Emily. “It’s fun to hang out here and see people you don’t necessarily see every day.”
And … perk up that college application or job resume.
For more information about the Teen Library Council call Robbins at 530-621-5547.