The library is full of stories. Not only do we have shelves full of stories—both fiction and nonfiction—but by virtue of being an active community center, the library is also a place where so many stories happen. Today’s library is not only a provider of materials and information, but a provider of experiences as well. Yes, our users engage with the print, visual and audio stories, but they also form their own stories by connecting with the wider community of library users. They are not just passive readers; they are active participants – exchanging ideas, sharing interests, building friendships and often working together to create that most precious commodity – a community where we can all flourish.
Libraries offer opportunities to connect with one another and with the community in organized interest groups – book clubs, workshops, classes, reading programs, film discussions, arts and crafts. Libraries also encourage informal exchange – as you share what you are reading with a neighbor or get to know other young mothers at our weekly storytime. Our annual Raynham Reads One Book, One Community is an example of both the organized and informal form of community engagement. The event is organized by the Friends of the Library to encourage discussion of a single book that all are reading. Community engagement is central to a library’s mission and success.
One of the most important ways the library encourages community engagement is to offer opportunities for teens to volunteer at the library. We do this through our Teen Advisory Group (TAG) which we began a couple of years ago. TAG is a group of teens who are interested in becoming more involved in the community and the library. They give input on the library’s teen collection, help create programming, and volunteer at library events. They are a talented group of kids, and we love the energy, interest and ideas they bring to the library. Not only does the library benefit, but the teens benefit as well. Involvement in the community helps them build confidence as they have the opportunity to serve as mentors to younger children, learn how to manage time and resources, have the opportunity to communicate with adults and acquire community service hours. This summer the library has opportunities for dozens of community service hours that can be used to satisfy school requirements.
Our next TAG meeting is Wednesday, July 11, at 6:30. If you know someone who might be interested in joining TAG, encourage them to attend. The Teen Advisory Group is open to teens in grades 7 through 12 residing in Raynham. Applications are available at the library or on the Teen page on the library website, raynhampubliclibrary.org.