When we all are safely able to gather again at the Main Library (expected in the library’s Service Level 3), our community’s youth will have an intentional second-floor space to engage more with our three-member Teen Services team.
“Responding to community needs, the library has created both a dedicated team and space to focus exclusively on engaging with teens,” said Stephen Jackson, Manager of Teen Services. “While we recognize this space is an interim solution, we are really happy about it and believe it will serve us all well once we are back in the library.”
Meet the team
“Connection is something so many of us need right now.”
Stephen Jackson, Teen Services Manager
Bringing significant experience working with Oak Park youth, Stephen joined the library in 2016 as the second member of the newly formed Social Services and Public Safety team. He has since worked closely with the library’s first Director of Social Services and Public Safety Robert Simmons, sharing restorative justice practices with staff and community and applying his Leading Edge approach to engagement with teens who regularly visit the library. In the fall of 2020, Stephen moved into the newly created role of Manager of Teen Services. He has since built the library’s teen team (see below). He partners with peers serving middle school students and selecting teen materials. And through community collaboration, he brings unique programs—including Living History and three annual restorative justice conferences—to Oak Park.
“With the world being upside down, teens are looking for outlets to be heard and the support of caring adults at these uncertain times.”
Darcel Washington, Teen Services Specialist
Darcel joined the library in November 2019, bringing more than 15 years of experience in creating innovative youth development programs. With the library, she works on youth programs such as Living History and Leading Edge. More about Darcel »
“I’ve always wanted to be a librarian and have the opportunity to work with youths because of their energy and optimism.”
Alex Gutierrez, Teen Services Librarian
Alex has been with the Oak Park Public Library since 2016, when he started as a volunteer. He then became a part-time employee who assisted the library’s previous Teen Services Librarian with collection management and program planning. More about Alex »
Making the most of available space
“We are always evaluating how the community is using materials,” said Materials Services Manager Barbara Fitzgerald. “When sections of the library were closed to browsing because of the pandemic earlier this year, we took a very close look at how to make specific improvements.”
As a result, during February about 58,000 items were reorganized on the second and third floors, which is about 1,000 shelves or 25% of the total physical collection. The results maximize use of current shelf and floor space and are intended to offer everyone a better in-person browsing experience.
“For teens, these changes not only open up a great space for future teen engagement (see schematic below), but they also make it a lot easier to find and browse teen graphic novels and teen manga—both really popular collections,” said Teen Services Librarian Alex Gutierrez.
The moves also increased shelf space for teen fiction, nonfiction, and audiobooks, always high-demand items. Alex, in addition to collaborating closely with librarians selecting teen books, movies, and music, will be engaging with teens in more in-person programs when the library is able to move to Service Level 3.