The place to be: Library creates special programming unique to teens

Any chance he got as a teenager, Dakota Hall wanted to be at the library.

Now, in his role as a teen programming specialist at the Bartholomew County Public Library, Hall is tasked with making the library a place where teenagers want to spend their time.

“I think one of the really great things about the library and why we’re such a great place for teens is we’re completely free,” Hall said. “It’s a place where you can go and not have to buy something. Libraries are good places that aren’t school or home.”

The library offers daily programming for teenagers in grades 7-12 who want a place to be after school. Every day has a different theme. For example, there’s Meme Monday, a time for teens to de-stress and explore different kinds of memes and music.

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“We recently decided since we have so many kids that come hang out after school to wait for their parents, we decided we should have some little thing every day for them, so we created daily programs,” Hall said.

On Taste-It Tuesday, teens can sample new foods and enjoy decadent snacks after school. Watch-It Wednesday is a day for teens to relax in the library’s teen area and watch a TV show or movie recommended by their peers.

Thursday, or Thursgame, is dedicated to games — Super Smash Bros: Ultimate, Catan, Mario Kart, Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle and everything in between. Fri-DIY is the day teens can put their creativity to the test and create artwork in the Teen Area.

Anytime the library adds more seating to the teen area, Hall said the seats are immediately filled by new teens, with as many as 40 teens at one time.

Thirteen-year-old Vedant Yesi said he frequently visits the library after school until his mom can pick him up. He first started attending teen programming at the library over the summer when he stopped in to pick up a book and discovered the teen section.

“I just come hang out here after school and play games,” Yesi said. “It’s like a lounge here. It’s a chance to meet people who don’t meet at your school. It’s really inclusive.”

Thursday’s Thursgamepalooza was the first event that sisters Elizabeth, 16, and Jadzia Bulthuis, 15, attended in the library’s teen area. Jadzia Bulthuis and her sister are home-schooled, so Thursday’s activity was a chance for them to step out of their comfort zones and meet new people, Jadzia Bulthuis said.

“This programming is a way for kids like me and my sister to get out and meet people who are willing to be our friends, to find other people who like what you like to have in your community; it comes with a great feeling,” Jadzia Bulthuis said.

The sisters already plan on coming back for the first Manga Anime Club meeting of the year.

Programming ideas are a collaborative effort, created by library staff and the teens themselves through the Teen Advisory Board. The board, made up of about 10 teens who are frequently involved in the library’s events, meets monthly to discuss teen programming and services.

“We want to be sure everything we do is something the teens will be interested in,” Hall said.

In addition to the daily programs the library offers, several special events are also hosted throughout the month. As part of its “Teen How-To” series, BCPL finds topics and activities that teens are interested in learning more about.

In December, the planned how-to event was on how to survive holiday dinner, but was canceled due to inclement weather. This month’s how-to event is on nail art and creating the perfect manicure.

Hall said some of the favorite events among the teens are centered on gaming. His personal favorite in the Manga Anime Club, which meets on the first Wednesday of each month.

“We try to make sure we have a diverse array of things people can do, everything from artistic programs to gaming to crafting, writing and even science,” Hall said. “Teens are cool, and they deserve to have nice places.”

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Here’s a list of what teen activities are coming up at the Bartholomew County Public Library, 536 Fifth St.

Today – Meme Monday, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Today – Snack + Chat: Historical Fiction Edition, 4-5 p.m.*

Tuesday – Taste-It Tuesday, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Tuesday – Work in Progress: Teen Writers Club, 4-5 p.m.*

Wednesday – Watch-It Wednesday, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Wednesday – Manga Anime Club, 4-5 p.m.*

Thursday – Thursgame, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Thursday – Eat for Cheap: Garlic Bread Pizza, 4-5 p.m.*

Friday – Fri-DIY, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Friday – Teen STEAM: 3D Print Club, 4-5 p.m.*

*Event requires registration at

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To stay up-to-date with what’s happening for teens at the Bartholomew County Public Library, visit

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What is TAB?

The Teen Advisory Board, also referred to as TAB, is a group of local teens that meet with teen services librarian Christina Kelley once a month to discuss teen programming and services.

What do they do?

TAB members’ main responsibility is to attend teen programs and report their feedback in the meeting. Additional responsibilities include: writing book reviews, providing ideas for current programs and suggesting new programs.

How to join TAB

To be considered for TAB, teens must submit an application. The necessary documents can be found on the teen page under Resources in the TAB drop down box. Printed copies are also available at the teen reference desk at the library. Applications should be completely filled out and turned in at the teen reference desk. Teens who meet the minimum requirements will be contacted for an interview.

Why TAB?

Joining TAB allows teens who love libraries and love being involved to voice their opinions and help to improve teen services at BCPL. As an added bonus, all hours spent in TAB meetings or conducting TAB business (programs, book reviews, etc.) count towards volunteer/service learning hours as may be required by a student’s school.

Additional questions?

Visit Christina Kelley in the teen area after school or contact her via email at [email protected].

Source: Christina Kelley, Bartholomew County Public Library