St. Peter Library gets teens involved in filling programming

When St. Peter Library’s assistant library supervisor, Leticia Snow, first started her role in overseeing teen and young adult programming in 2020, she noticed a gap in community activities specifically meant for kids between 13 to 18-years old.

She initially started a weekly drop-in series where teens would have a time and place to engage with different activities in an effort to reach that group.

It was last summer, as she was trying to teach the kids how programming worked, when she got an idea.

“I was trying to teach them the basics of running a program and tried to get them more involved in the programming at the library. I thought if they’re in charge of the programming, then maybe they know what teens want and that will attract more kids,” she said.

The kids worked on several different levels of programming last summer, from an arts and crafts program about reading to trivia activities.

But one group of teens wanted to bring in a presentation series on different topics that were important to them.

In addition to activities, programming this summer has involved presentations on topics like social justice, diversity, mental health and LGBT issues.

From those presentations stemmed discussions on different needs within the community.

“We learned there were not a lot of resources for teens who identify as LGBT,” Snow said.

This fall, the library will start a queer and straight alliance club that all stemmed from teen leadership in library programming.

Library Supervisor Brenda McHugh said having a person like Snow dedicated to growing teen programming has helped the activities expand.

“I think that the teen program has grown, especially these past couple of years, because we’re a little bit more intentional about it,” she said. “(Teens) really just need a spot that they can call their own and have a safe space where they can interact with each other and feel welcomed.”

Snow said the library has also had teens reach out to start their own clubs.

“It creates a leadership opportunity for them, and they have ownership of it. I provide the supplies and the space and then any kind of mentorship that they need. And they can just kind of run it as their club but supported by the library,” she said.

Peyton Trabaille, who is involved in one of the teen clubs at the library, said the programming gives teens a place to be themselves.

Emmalina Walsh, who works with the library’s “VolunTeen” program — a library volunteer program that works alongside teen programming at the library — said teen programming is important to give teens a place to go.

“It’s just a place to destress and just relax, be chill, do fun stuff with our friends,” she said.

The queer and straight alliance club will start Sept. 6 and will occur on the first and third Tuesday at 4 pm.