Wii want to read? Kent library goes high-tech for teens

Thirteen-year-old Tom Duong attended his first Game On! session early this spring at the Kent Regional Library, 212 Second Ave. N. By the end of the school year he had become a fixture at the library’s twice-monthly video game sessions – not just as a player, but also as a volunteer helper.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Tuesday, July 1, 2008 8:07pm
  • Life
From left

From left

Thirteen-year-old Tom Duong attended his first Game On! session early this spring at the Kent Regional Library, 212 Second Ave. N. By the end of the school year he had become a fixture at the library’s twice-monthly video game sessions – not just as a player, but also as a volunteer helper.

The Mill Creek Middle School student came initially because a friend dragged him in to check out the library programs.

“I thought that it was nothing really at first, but Game On! was a whole new experience,” Duong said, adding that he now considers the library “an awesome place.”

Now Duong’s around every time the conference room doors open, pulling out gaming equipment, setting up monitors, and doing everything else he can to help out. He’s also developed friendships with teen librarian Rebecca Hershey, and the rest of the staff who facilitate the gaming sessions.

“(I like) that I get to hang out with the librarians here,” he said. “They’re very nice.”

Developing ties between library staff and youngsters like Duong is what the Kent Library’s teen programs are all about.

Some programs, like Game On!, draw teens in with a high-tech hook. Others, like the library’s monthly Book Explorers Book Club, offer a more traditional approach. But all have the same goal: reaching teens where they are.

Rebecca Hershey has been Kent’s teen librarian for nearly 10 years, and she said she’s excited about what the library system is doing for teens now. The library’s focus for teens, Hershey said, is two-pronged: to provide educational support, and to facilitate fun.

“(Teens) are at a critical point in their life, and they have a lot of challenges. They’ll need … a place where they can get materials that will challenge them so that they can grow mentally,” she said. “And then we want them to be able to meet other teens and relax and have fun.”

To help with the educational needs, the library maintains a good selection of books on topics teens are likely to be researching for class, as well as a plethora of online databases for research.

It also hosts a free tutoring program called “Study Zone” four days a week throughout the school year. During Study Zone hours, students can come in for free help from trained volunteer tutors.

“We have one (volunteer) who is bilingual in Spanish and English, and is a professional mathematician,” Hershey said. “We’re really proud of that.”

As far as fun goes, the library has two main recreational programs for teens: Game On! and the Book Explorers Book Club.

Hershey maintains that teens get a bad rap when it comes to reading.

“Teens read,” she said, pointing to the library’s circulation statistics as evidence. “We have better book circulation for teens than any other category.”

Teen programs at Kent Regional Library

• Read. Flip. Win.

Participants make videos – book reviews or trailers – for their favorite books, and upload the videos to YouTube with the tag “VBRkcls2008.” Teens have until July 31 to enter.For those without their own video equipment, a library video camera and laptop will be available to use on select days.

The best video will nab its maker a Flip video camera. Three runners up will win MuVo MP3 players. The Kent library will hold a screening party for the top teen videos on Aug. 7.

• Read Three, Summer Edition

Teenagers read three books and write three short book reviews on the form supplied by the library. When they turn in a review, they earn a free book.

Through August, participants enter a monthly prize drawing for each month they write reviews, and all participants are entered in a drawing for the summer’s grand prize: a laptop computer.

• Game On!

3:30 to 5 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. Teens can come to play Dance Dance Revolution, GameCube and Nintendo Wii.

For more information call Rebecca Hershey at 253-859-3330, or visit www.kcls.org/kent.


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