Building a community


Shehzil Imran

Senior Ann Jayan, sophomore Jayden Davis and freshman Anjali Abraham brainstorm ideas for the teen room at the third Teen Advisory Council meeting on Dec. 5. Upon discussing the desired changes, the council members did research on what they wanted to add before logging it down on a Google Sheet, due by Dec. 16.

The Carrollton Public Library’s Teen Advisory Council is discussing plans to renovate the library’s teen room, create more appealing programs for the youth and increase overall teen engagement in the library and community.

“Teen Advisory Council is not specifically for me to say ‘here are my ideas,’” youth services librarian Amanda Middlebrooks said. “Yes, I will provide input, but I really want to know what the community of teens that have gotten together and want to make a difference in the community think. Obviously most of [them] love coming to the library to read — [but it is about] how [they are] going to help with influencing teens to want to come to the library, whether it be for programs, checking out books or participating in reading challenges.”

The Teen Advisory Council is composed of high school students who meet once a month at the library to discuss what changes to bring and how to execute them. The council currently has 12 members; eight from Hebron, two from Newman Smith High School, one from Frisco ISD and one who is homeschooled. 

“[It has been helpful to have] people coming from different schools,” homeschooled freshman Gabe Anderson said. “There are some things about the environment [at] one school that may be better than others, and we can combine [the best aspects of each] to make the library a better space.”

Last year was the council’s first year back since the start of COVID-19. Its main focus was creating youth programs, as the library had none. This year, the council’s goal is sprucing up the teen room, which opened this past July after concluding COVID-19 regulations. 

“I could say, easily, [that] the largest group using it is adults, but teens [should make use of the library] too,” senior and first-year member Ann Jayan said. “It is a free space with free entertainment. There are so many resources [the community] can access and not enough people know about it.”

Middlebrooks said the purpose of revamping the teen room is to make the atmosphere a more inviting place and to create a space for teenagers to come together. During meetings, the Teen Advisory Council sets aside time to assess what is most important to change in the room, in order to eventually put their ideas together and see what fits their budget. After determining what changes should take top priority, the budget is discussed and determined with the library manager and the youth services supervisor.

“I think it has been great having everyone [on the council] committed,” Middlebrooks said. “It is helping make the library better, and by [doing so], we are making the community better and serving the teens and preteens.”

The Carrollton Public Library has youth programs, such as “Teens Take Over” and “Tween Hangout,” which were established with the assistance of the Teen Advisory Council last year. The library currently has a Winter Reading Challenge available to all ages until Feb. 1, where participants log their hours and receive prizes for hitting goals. The log can be accessed through the READSquared app and website.

Flyer courtesy of Carrollton Public Library

“I look forward to seeing what everyone’s advice and ideas are in upcoming meetings so that we can spruce up the place and make it look like more than just a study room,” Middlebrooks said. “It is all about coming together and working toward making the library environment more welcoming, inclusive and a happy place for everyone to enjoy reading [and] being themselves.”