When we completed renovation and expansion of the Patten Free Library in 1998 (Scott as Principal in Charge with TFH Architects and Pamela as Principal in charge of the renovation of the historic building with Ann Beha Architects), public libraries rarely provided separate spaces for teens. In the past twenty years, books and other library materials written expressly for 13-to-18-year-olds have proliferated, the Internet has mushroomed as a research tool and collaborative learning has become part of schoolcurricula at all levels. Today, librarians, educators and other experts recognize that dedicated library spaces for teens are critical to their emotional, social and intellectual development. A 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center, “Teens and Libraries in Today’s Digital World,” revealed that people 16-29 years old use the library more than older patrons, and those at the younger end of the scale are the most frequent users.
Since 2014, we’ve been collaborating with the Library to create a distinctive Teen Area within the existing Non-Fiction stacks. Fundraising is nearly complete, and a team from Wright-Ryan Construction began work in June. The new space will feature flexible seating and work areas, with a two-story “pilot house” study carrel that recalls the innovative ships being constructed downriver at Bath Ironworks. With floor-to-ceiling glass partitions and suspended fabric “fireflies” for acoustic absorption, the space can be used for a variety of programs, including films and music.
Renovations are also underway to make the Reference Area more flexible, so reference services have been relocated to the historic Reading Room for the summer. The new spaces are expected to open in mid-September.
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