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Teen Space Redesign

With 5600 teens in the area, Hobe Sound Library (a branch of Martin County Library System) could have had a happening teen scene. Unfortunately, most teens weren’t interested.

The library had two spaces for teens separated by a wall:

  • Young adult book collection
  • Teen computer room

This setup presented several problems.

  • Both rooms were small.
  • The only place to sit was in front of the five computers.
  • Some teens only used the computers, completely ignoring the books.

Amy Thompson, a children’s assistant, felt that the library could attract more teens by redesigning the space to make it more fun, functional and welcoming. Other staffers agreed.

The Planning Process

Starting with the idea of removing the wall between the stacks and the computer room, Thompson planned the redesign.

Removing the wall, rearranging the layout and adding extra furniture would provide a safe, inviting space suitable for more activities.

Next, Thompson sought ideas for improvements from Hobe Sound Library’s teen patrons, using a few different methods: 

  • Suggestion box in the teen computer room
  • Paper survey in the book room
  • Digital survey on the teen computers

When the response rate was lackluster, Thompson decided to run a special promotion for the teens.

The library had some flash drives left over from a previous giveaway, so Thompson offered one to every teen who filled out the survey. She also entered all the respondents into a drawing for a gift card.

As Thompson suspected, the survey results showed that teens did want a larger, separate space with comfy seating and fun decor.

Other things that topped their wish list included:

  • Designated study area
  • School supplies
  • More computers
  • PlayStation 4

The planning phase took about 10 months. A little more than a year after presenting the plans, the library had acquired nearly everything on the wish list from both teens and staff.

Outcomes   

Although a grant application to fund the remodeling was declined, Hobe Sound Library’s teen space project moved ahead.

Martin County’s General Services Department removed the wall using their own budget.

Money left over in the library budget allowed the branch to purchase new furniture, wall decorations and dry-erase/magnet boards.

Later, MCLS began rolling out themed idea labs at its branches. Each idea lab gives patrons of all ages fun ways to explore technology and improve digital literacy.

Hobe Sound’s idea lab provided the funds for a PlayStation 4, an iPad, a Chromebook, an art cart and additional supplies like pencils and paper.

Thompson says, “We can all see a huge difference in the amount of teenagers that we see come to hang out at the library. They are now using the room for playing games, doing homework, and just sitting and chatting with each other. Plus, as an added bonus, now that the computer room and book room are combined, some of them have actually noticed we have books for them!”    

Before and After

In this PDF you can see photos of Hobe Sound’s teen space before and after the remodel.

 

Presentation

Amy Thompson’s presentation (the PDF below) gives more details on the project’s planning phase. Turn on “Notes” in the View panel to read her notes that go along with each slide.

 

imls180.for.panel.jpgMany of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Florida's LSTA program is administered by the Department of State's Division of Library and Information Services.