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Community is Everything: Library Rocks!


Continuing on the Library Rocks journey this week! Lyrically Speaking & babyPUNK at Union West Library were a blast! We had a great turnout yesterday and I was too busy to snap pics during the event, but I did get this cool one with some of the awesome roadies that helped me load my gear out. I think we got a lot of kids interested in rockin', they were all about the drums and the microphone!

I reached out to Abbie Townson to talk more about the Library Rocks program in York County. We're partnering on some upcoming events this summer, get inspired by some of the amazing things she's doing in the community like helping parents better understand their kids hobbies, and building a bridge between the youth and the local police! There are cool things happening at the library, stuff you may never have guessed.

Krystle: What are some of the things your library is doing to connect the community?

Abbie: "When I first read this question, I thought of the many outreach programs we have- a Bookmobile that visits schools, daycares nursing homes, etc... I also visit schools, incarcerated youth and more. So, an easy question to answer. Then I read the question again. You did not ask what we are doing to connect with or to the community, but connect the community. Excellent question! One of the best parts of my job is seeing teens who might not normally sit together in a school cafeteria or hang out on weekends, come together at library events because of common interests. New and unexpected friendship are formed. A good example of this would be my fandom hangouts. These students are fans of anime and manga, Harry Potter, Dr. Who and many other fandoms. I find most of them to bit introverted, very creative and many have shared that they feel misunderstood. They are not your average cookie cutter teens and I love that about them! It is great to see them interact with like-minded peers in a welcoming environment. My anime and manga fans recently led an Anime 101 workshop and found a creative way to show concerned parents that their interests in the art form would not be detrimental to their well being. They showcased the benefits of their interests- they are learning to speak Japanese, improving their drawing skills and learning about other cultures. It was great! As a result of this program, parents and teens gained better understanding of one another.

Another example would be the partnership between YCL and the Rock Hill Police Department. The officers visit YCL twice a month to play video games, chess and other activities. Three times a year we hosts after-hours Lock-Ins that bring together officers and teens in a series of Nerf battles. This partnership has provided a unique opportunity to bring law enforcement officials and teens together in a positive environment. When the partnership started in 2014, many teens and their caregivers were apprehensive about being around the officers. Soon after, they realized that the officers were here on their own time and they wanted to get to know the youth of our community. This endeavor has been so successful that it has been replicated in libraries across the nation."

Krystle: "How do you think library programs benefit the youth?"

Abbie: "As I mentioned earlier, these programs bring students of different backgrounds together. I love to see that!

Teen Advisory Board members help plan many of our events and receive volunteer time for doing so. It is great to see their ideas come to fruition and celebrate their interests. On Monday, we had an enchanted creatures soiree and some of our patrons gave second looks with raised eyebrows to the bronies and mermaids visiting the library. It did not seem to matter to my teens because they felt welcomed and celebrated! That is very important to me.

Library programs also engage students and sends the message that we want them here. Certainly there are many programs that are considered educational, such as robotics and chess clubs. I am thrilled to offer these programs, but I never want to put the pressures of school on their shoulders. I want to provide a sanctuary for them. My most popular events are the unconventional ones- zombie makeup sessions and crawls through downtown Rock Hill, ham radio workshop, video game tournaments and more. One of my favorite things to hear is, "You can do that in a library?"."

So cool to learn more about the incredible things local libraries are doing! The library rocks program isn't a large scale initiative. Each library branch do their own unique things! I encourage you to visit your local library and see the fun things they have going on. Chances are, they will surprise you!

This week you can find me at Hickory Grove Library on Thursday teaching a Songwriting Class! RSVP here. I'll be hanging with Lonna Vines, Children’s Librarian at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and ukulele storytime guru. Stay tuned next week to learn more about Hickory Grove Library!

Pachyderm's on Tour this Summer! Come to some of our free programs:

June 14th 5:00 - 6:00pm: Music Club Adult Jam at Hickory Grove Library

July 11th 1:45 - 2:30pm: Drum Circle at Union West Library

July 19th 4:00 - 6:00pm: Lyrically Speaking at York County Library

August 1st 9:00 - 9:45am: BabyPUNK at Hickory Grove Library

August 1st 10:00 - 10:45am: BabyPUNK at Hickory Grove Library

#abbietownson #libraryrocks

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