FOL Year in Review 2016

It has been a year like no other at Columbus Metropolitan Library, and Friends of the Library (FOL) have been a part of every achievement and celebration. In 2016, we saw the rebirth of a transformed Main Library, opened new branches for Northern Lights, Parsons and Shepard, welcomed thousands of librarians from across the world to the IFLA World Library and Information Congress—all the while maintaining thriving programs that support learning and literacy in Central Ohio. Our community values our library and its vital role in our lives. Friends should be proud that their FOL membership supports this treasured community resource, extending its reach and impact.

It was a year of milestones for FOL, as well, as the reopening of Main Library reinvigorated some of our most important projects and programs:

The Library Store

With the reopening of the renovated Main Library in June 2016, FOL relaunched The Library Store in an open, centrally located space just off of the atrium. Unique merchandise appealing to bookworms and library lovers of all ages includes posters, apparel, and a wide range of unique handmade items as well as a selection of gently used books. Thanks to strong sales from the library community, including our Friends and Fans, The Library Store has exceeded our financial goals for 2016! Profits from the store help fund the many library programs that FOL supports throughout the year. Friends receive a discount on all purchases at The Library Store.


Big Book Sale Returns

The much-anticipated Big Book Sale returned in November 2016 with record sales and attendance. More than 10,000 items were sold, including used books for children and teens, fiction, cookbooks, biographies, specialty books, DVDs and library merchandise. Proceeds from the sale enables FOL to support library programs and special initiatives. Friends receive early admission to the Big Book Sale. The 2016 Big Book Sale was such a success FOL plans to hold another sale March 30-April 2, so please mark your calendars!

Carnegie Gallery

In partnership with the library and a number of local nonprofit galleries and artists’ cooperatives, FOL sponsors exhibits in the Carnegie Gallery throughout the year. Located in the original Carnegie library building, the gallery is now easily accessible from the second floor as well as the majestic marble staircase at the main entrance. The second Art Unbound exhibit marked the reopening of Main Library in June. This exhibition showcased local artists who transformed library books in disrepair into remarkable works of art. Later in the year, Carnegie Gallery hosted two additional exhibits, OOVAR (Ohio Online Visual Artist Registry, a locally juried art show) and Art and Artists of 614.  FOL funds support Carnegie Gallery exhibitions throughout the year and provide refreshments at an opening reception for each show. Friends are always invited! FOL receives a commission from artwork sold in the Gallery.


Carnegie’s Cafe at Main Library

Coffee, pastries and lunch are once again being offered for sale at Main Library. Carnegie’s Cafe, located off the atrium across from The Library Store, has an expanded menu and a welcoming and spacious seating area. Friends enjoy a 15% discount at the Cafe.

PBJ and Jazz Concerts with the Columbus Jazz Arts Group

While these popular concerts never skipped a beat, we were glad to have Main Library open again for the 2016 summer season and to welcome families from storytime, who made their way through the beautiful new library atrium to The Topiary Park. A special concert was part of the community celebration for Main Library’s reopening. Four concerts in June, July, August and September welcomed over 1,500 people for stories, music, dancing and fun.

In a year with many new things to celebrate, FOL continued its support for long-standing library programs during 2016:

Summer Reading Club

A total of 59,000 children, teens, and adults participated in the 2016 Summer Reading Club. The Club achieved the highest completion rate of 60% for kids aged 5-11 in the program’s history. Reading over the summer is an important way for students to maintain skills, discover the joys of reading for pleasure and become part of a community that values learning. A crowded calendar of special activities kept all participants—and library staff—very busy.


Teen Read Week

FOL sponsored Teen Read Week, welcoming Jason Reynolds, an award-winning young adult author. Visiting six of our urban branches and Main Library, Reynolds spoke to nearly 1,100 middle and high school students, sharing his own story of becoming a reader and writer. An inspiring and entertaining speaker, Reynolds challenged his young audience to find their own way to books and learn to tell their own stories.

Branch Funding

FOL funds provide each branch with “spending money,” used to enhance library programs, build community outreach, and fund special projects. Whether it’s offering pizza to teens participating in an evening program, supporting a college fair, or sponsoring a Black History Month teens vs. staff contest, FOL funds enable library staff to personalize the library experience for their branch community.

In all these ways, Friends of the Library make a difference to your library and your community. We are grateful for your support, and look forward to another year with the Friends and Fans of Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Library Store Loyalty

The Library Store is excited to announce the launch of its Loyalty Program!

The more money you spend in the Library Store, the more reward dollars you get to spend at the upcoming Big Book Sale! Ask about signing up the next time you visit the store.

FOL Newsletter Fall 2016

Get the latest on the true impact of Columbus Metropolitan Library programs.

In this issue: FOL newsletter thumbnail.png

  • Learn how the Library supports early childhood literacy for Columbus children
  • Find out what happened when 3,100 library professionals from 140 countries came to CML
  • Read about the unprecedented response from teens who attended Teen Read Week with author Jason Reynolds


FOL Newsletter Fall 2016

Library Supporting Early Childhood Literacy for Columbus Children

Reading is an essential building block for a child’s ability to grow and succeed. Without basic reading skills, the world is a frustrating place, hard to understand, and with barriers all around. Providing children in Columbus with the right tools, experiences and family support to help them become proficient readers is a cornerstone of Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Young Minds strategy.

CML has long been committed to enriching and supporting childhood literacy throughout the Columbus area. Particular need for early literacy support came into focus in 2014, when the success of CML as one the country’s best library systems was juxtaposed with continuing under performance by Columbus children in basic literacy. CML set out to make a positive impact, and has done so by providing programs and support to children and their families in a wide variety of ways. Here are some of the key initiatives CML focuses on to promote strong development of reading skills for children in Columbus.

Kindergarten Readiness

Storytimes – CML holds thousands of Storytimes every year at branches throughout the city. It’s a fun and interactive way to teach children Ready for Kindergarten skills such as words, songs and vocabulary. Writing activities even for very young children have been shown to help develop the motor skills needed to begin to form letters. As a result, toddler and preschool Storytimes also include age appropriate writing activities such as writing the letter of the day and name writing. 


Storytime at the library includes music and reading.

Book Lessons – A parent-focused service where CML staff demonstrate how to use picture books to teach early literacy skills to pre-Kindergarten children. Book Lessons encourage parent-child conversations guided by the targeted skills. Book Lesson “homework” sheets for parents identify literacy activities corresponding to specific books for babies, toddlers and preschool age groups.

Ready for K Areas – Yellow school buses welcome young children to special Ready for Kindergarten areas in some of CML’s branches. Creating a space targeted at the youngest group of children and providing physical surroundings that give an added comfort level with aspects of beginning school add to the resources provided by CML.


The yellow school bus is an inviting landmark for children to find the Ready for Kindergarten area in many CML branches

Ready for Kindergarten – Classes served 491 customers who attended 53 Ready for K classes throughout the CML system. Children 3 to 5 years of age receive instruction in kindergarten readiness skills. During class, participants “play school.” Children practice writing, learning letters, using scissors and other important skills needed for kindergarten success. Parents learn how to support these skills at home and get practice in working on those skills during class time. Ready for Kindergarten classes focus on getting children off to a strong start with the literacy skills they need to become successful readers.


At the Linden branch children learn about parts of the book and create name boxes by writing their names, cutting, coloring and gluing

Ready to Read Home Visitation and Bookmobile

Bookmobile – The Ready to Read bookmobile (named Rosie!) is stocked with children’s books and staffed by 8 CML employees, who focus on helping parents and caregivers learn and implement early literacy activities in their own homes. The home visit program consists of 12 home visits per family where basic early literacy skills, such as initial sounds, rhyming, letter knowledge and vocabulary, are emphasized. The focus is repetition of these skills, which are directly linked to kindergarten readiness and later passage of the Ohio 3rd grade reading test. During each visit, the child receives a copy of the book featured in the lesson, and parents are assigned homework to practice in between. The home visit program visited roughly 200 homes a month and served 500-800 families in 2015.

In addition to home visits, the Ready to Read Corps also visit job and family services welcome centers, food pantries, WIC offices and pediatric centers to reach additional families and their children where they spend significant time. The Ready to Read program has a measurable impact.  The program positively transforms parents’ attitudes about learning for themselves and their children, as has been shown in a formal evaluation by CML in partnership with The Ohio State University.

Support for 3rd grade reading test

Reading Buddies – Provides essential one-on-one reading practice to students in grades K-3. Studies show that kids become better readers through extra reading practice. During 2015, over 6,200 students participating in Reading Buddies read with adult volunteers and staff members after school at each of CML’s branches. Reading Buddies work with the students to help them sound out words and test their comprehension. This fall each child participating in Reading Buddies received a free book made possible by a donation from the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services. Reading Buddies is particularly critical since Columbus 3rd graders must pass Ohio’s State Test in English Language Arts to move on to 4th grade. CML’s additional support was one of the factors boosting the pass rate to 90% in the 2015-16 school year from 87% in the 2013-14 school year.

Abdulnas Ali reads to Amanda Stephen during the Reading Buddies program at the Karl Road Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library on Tuesday, May 5. The popular program pairs students in kinndergarten through third grade with volunteers who either listen to the students read or read to them. Abdulnas Ali reads to Amanda Stephen during the Reading Buddies program at the Karl Rd Library Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

Reading Buddies provides one on one reading practice in support of the 3rd Grade Reading test.

School Book Delivery – Beginning in 2014 CML has provided monthly delivery of classroom “kits” to 23 public elementary schools in Columbus to support reading instruction and lessons in those schools. The kits consist of 30 high interest fiction and non-fiction books delivered to schools identified as having low scores in kindergarten readiness or on the 3rd grade reading test or schools lacking libraries, staff and current books. Participating schools reported that the books had a positive impact on the students’ enthusiasm for reading and that students loved the books and were excited to open the kits to see what books were inside.

Kids Cards CML offers a special library card just for kids, called the Kids Card, that removes barriers preventing children from accessing the library’s collections. Kids under 17 can sign up for the Kids Card without a parent’s signature, which entitle them to check out up to 5 books at a time and provide full access to Homework Help Centers and computers at each branch. The Kids Card does not impose fines. CML has issued approximately 29,000 Kids Cards as of October, 2016. The Kids Card fosters a sense of responsibility, pride and ownership in children by allowing them to manage their library items. All children who enrolled in the 2016 summer reading program were asked to sign up for their own library card. This is part of CML’s effort with the White House’s ConnectED Initiative, which seeks to ensure that all students have library access to the resources they need to thrive in the 21st century.


Library Impact

The impact of library programs supporting the literacy of young children in the Columbus area is significant. The programs provide young children and their families with a variety of resources, allowing them to take advantage of the programs that provide them the most benefit. CML’s Young Minds initiative puts increased early literacy of children throughout central Ohio as its core mission. Our children are stronger readers and better able to thrive both inside and outside of school, in part, due to the work of the library.

Saturdays in the park with jazz

PBJ & Jazz concerts offer Columbus children and families an interactive introduction to live music

On summer weekends in the city, the sounds of merriment and music fill the Topiary Park as families and friends gather for PBJ & Jazz concerts.

Now in its eighth year, the popular PBJ & Jazz concert series introduces jazz and American music to children and their families in casual, one-hour interactive concerts. Each of the concerts features some of Columbus’ finest musicians in a dynamic introduction to live music for young audience members. In 2015, nearly 2,000 children and adults attended the concerts.

The concerts are presented on the second Saturday of July, August, and September from noon to 1 p.m. This summer, a special concert was added on Saturday, June 25, as part of CML’s grand reopening of its Main Library.

Don’t miss September 10th at Noon for the final concert!

Each concert is hosted by retired music educator Rebecca Ogden and features a different group of professional musicians from the Jazz Arts Group. The 2016 lineup includes the Caribbean Jazz Quintet, Jailynn Lake-Noel, Bobby Floyd and Byron Stripling, and Kelly McLennan.

Families are encouraged to bring picnic lunches to enjoy during the free concerts.

A collaborative effort between the Jazz Arts Group, Friends of the Topiary Park, Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) and the Columbus Museum of Art, the concerts build awareness of high-quality cultural activities and educational opportunities for families in downtown Columbus.

Each of the concerts is “bookended” by two family-friendly cultural offerings. Preceding concerts at 11 a.m., CML presents family story time in the Main Library. Following the concerts, the Columbus Museum of Art offers a hands-on art activity from 1 to 2 p.m. All activities are free and open to the public.

“PBJ & Jazz in the Topiary Park is a wonderfully collaborative program that offers high quality arts and cultural programming in downtown Columbus,” says Friends of the Topiary Park representative Jennifer McNally, who has helped coordinate the series since 2008. “The combination of story time, jazz, and art making in a beautiful outdoor setting is appealing to all ages and multigenerational families.”

Since the introduction of PBJ & Jazz, a grant from the Friends of the Library (FOL) has made it possible to present free concerts of high artistic value to a wide audience. FOL funding supports promotional efforts to build awareness of the series—including advertising and the printing of 10,000 bookmarks distributed through CML’s branches, at the Columbus Arts Festival, and by each participating organization. FOL funding also supports the rental of sound equipment for concerts.

PBJ & Jazz concerts are presented by Friends of the Topiary Park and sponsored by the Discovery Special Improvement District, the Jennifer Michel Keefer Memorial Fund at The Columbus Foundation, and Friends of the Library. Columbus Recreation and Parks, the Discovery Special Improvement District, and Motorists Insurance Group provide in-kind support. WCBE 90.5 FM provides exclusive media support.

The Topiary Park is located at 480 E. Town Street in downtown Columbus. Free parking is available in the Motorists Insurance lot just north of the Topiary Park. In the event of rain, all activities are held in the Main Library, located at 96 S. Grant Avenue, adjacent to the Topiary Park.

Impact of the renovated Main Library

Since 1907, the inscription above our stately Main Library has proclaimed a core value: “Open to All.” The newly renovated library, with its broad vistas, open floor plan and walls of windows is indeed open to all and intended to bring people together. After a 16 month long $35 million dollar renovation, the grand opening ceremony took place on June 25. Columbus dignitaries, Library Board members and hundreds of Columbus library users, both young and old gathered on the updated Carnegie Plaza, anxious to visit their new library. The building inspires in a myriad of new ways. The new Main Library has a seamless connection to Topiary Park, a reimagined Children’s Area, more meeting and study rooms, a new Reading Room and great views of the vibrant downtown neighborhood throughout.

The new light filled Grand Atrium still features the beloved Aminah Robinson mural reinstalled on the main staircase, a staircase that now leads to a new two-story Reading Room on the second floor with windows sweeping across the east facade. Flooring was removed in four areas to create volume and space. Glass is used liberally to connect library visitors to the activity inside the library and to offer beautiful vistas of the Columbus downtown skyline, Discovery District and greenspace in Topiary Park.


Main Library entrance from Topiary Park

Main Library’s new design also incorporates a welcoming, light-filled entrance directly from Topiary Park. While many have long thought of Topiary Park as the library’s “back yard,” access and views of the park from Main Library were blocked. No longer: a new plaza, complete with benches, shaded tables and chairs and a performance area now create a literary gateway between the library and the park. A one-of-a-kind destination, Topiary Park was dedicated in 1992 and includes seven acres of manicured gardens depicting Georges Seurat’s Post-Impressionist painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte. PBJ & Jazz family concerts, sponsored in part by Friends of the Library, are held monthly here on summer Saturdays after library story time.

Just off the Grand Atrium a reimagined Children’s Area exemplifies one of the library’s top strategies: Young Minds. The previous Children’s Area was tucked away to separate children from the main areas and to keep the library quiet. Today’s library connects kids and all library customers, encouraging learning and growth, in order to build a foundation for a successful life. Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Young Minds strategy focuses on three learning milestones: Kindergarten Readiness, Third Grade Reading Proficiency and High School Graduation.

The Kindergarten Readiness Area recreates a kindergarten classroom. Because many Columbus children ride a bus to school, the space includes a school bus for preschoolers and their parents to experience together. An interactive whiteboard with learning apps, a magnetic word wall and educational toys that assist with motor skills and cognitive development might be found in a child’s first classroom. Books are organized in bins featuring the alphabet to assist with a fundamental literacy skill of letter recognition.
Another Young Minds initiative around Third Grade Reading originated to help kids pass the third grade reading test required by the State of Ohio. The Reading Buddies program pairs young students with an older buddy, who read together to practice the skills necessary to pass the test and advance to the fourth grade. The area is full of comfortable seating to facilitate this activity—and of course lots of books!


Story time in the expanded and engaging Children’s Area of Main Library

Teens and high school students are invited to connect with the library in a variety of ways. The Homework Help Center, accessible through the Carnegie side of the library is adorned with the words, “To and Through College” and college pennants decorate the walls. Teens now have their own area on the second floor, separate from the Children’s Area and outfitted with the latest technologies. Through the SURGE network, teens can connect with other local institutions in the space, including the Columbus Museum of Art, COSI, TransitArts and Wexner Center for the Arts.


Teen computer and technology area

Columbus Metropolitan Library has worked to connect the community by tripling the number of meeting rooms and adding four additional study spaces. Meeting rooms have glass walls, opening the spaces into the library, and the names of organizations utilizing these rooms are displayed on a digital tablet outside the room. Users of the library can see their neighbors and friends involving themselves in the work of the community.

80,000 visits

In the first 30 days since opening, Main Library has had nearly 80,000 visits, a 21% increase over the average daily visits in June 2014. There have been 9,000 visits to the new walkways between the Carnegie building and the second floor of the 1991 addition, 14,000 visits to the Local History and Genealogy area and 40,000 visits to the Children’s area. The staff issued over 4,000 new library cards at Main Library, a 300% increase over the same time frame in 2014. Over 70,000 items have been checked out and customers have logged almost 13,000 public computer sessions. Customers have come from over 200 different registered zip codes, and at the two survey kiosks stationed at Main Library’s entryways, over 1,200 customers completed the online survey with 88% of them expressing happiness with their visits.

300% more library cards

Columbus Metropolitan Library is truly a gem in our city, connecting library users with a unique and spectacular space, state of the art technology, interactive Discovery Boards, kid’s areas, teen facilities, local history and genealogy resources, a café and a library store. And, yes, over 300,000 books, DVDs, CDs, magazines, newspapers and other items for circulation and research purposes. The newly reopened Main Library shows off its commitment not only to the library’s collection, but also to innovative ways of encouraging connection within our community.

New Main Library was big news! Here are links to some of the coverage:

Main Library ready to show off its $35 million renovation
The Columbus Dispatch, June 19, 2016

Light and Air: The New Columbus Metropolitan Library
WOSU, June 20, 2016

PHOTO TOUR: $35M main library renovation ready for debut, with new views of downtown Columbus
Business First, June 20, 2016

A new day for the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s flagship branch
Columbus Monthly, June 2016

Joe Blundo commentary: Renovation gives library feeling of openness
The Columbus Dispatch, July 17, 2016

Friends Seeking Board Applications

Do you know someone who could be described as an energetic, dynamic individual looking for an opportunity to serve our community in a meaningful, positive way? Friends of the Columbus Metropolitan Library is searching for people meeting that description to serve on the organization’s Board of Trustees.

Friends of the Library board members absolutely love the library and have a heart for volunteer leadership. Prospective board members often have previous experience serving on boards or committees and this year, we’re particularly interested in hearing from candidates with accounting, business strategy, graphic design, marketing/creative, retail design, social media or web design skills. Board members serve three-year-terms (donating an afternoon and evening each month), and enthusiastically network and advocate for the library throughout our community.

If this volunteer leadership opportunity sounds like it might be a good fit for you or someone you know, please take a look at the information packet and application: 2017 FOL Board Nominating Packet & Form. Return the completed form (along with any additional materials detailing your skills and experience) to the address or email provided.

To be considered, submissions must be received by 5 p.m., September 26, 2016. The nominating committee will begin reviewing applications soon thereafter.

Spring 2016 Newsletter

Get the latest on the true impact of Columbus Metropolitan Library programs.

In this issue: spring 2016 thumbnail

  • Learn how library programs are inspiring teens to find purpose and pursue passions
  • Find out what kids and teens are learning in the branches
  • Get involved with the VolunTeen program

FOL Newsletter Spring 2016

Library Store Reopens Saturday, June 25

Join us Saturday, June 25 as we celebrate the grand opening of Main Library and reopening of the Friends of the Library Store in its new location! Come check out our amazing selection of products featuring unique literary gifts, locally made products and more.

Friends of the Library members get an additional discount with the coupon below. Not yet a member? Join now to access the discount.

FOL-662016-Reopening-Email-v2_03 NEW

Library programs inspire teens

Library programs inspire teens to find purpose and pursue passions

The proof that libraries transform is clear for Demerus, a student whose visit to the Columbus Metropolitan Library three years ago changed his life.

Wandering into the YouMedia lab at Main Library, the Columbus teen met CML’s Max Lewis, a mentor who shared his enthusiasm for audio production and encouraged him to stay and explore music composition and audio editing. The Columbus Alternative High School student soon became a regular.

With Lewis’ guidance, Demerus produced songs using computers and audio editing software like Garageband and Ableton Live, and recorded vocals in the lab’s sound booth. It wasn’t long before he began performing the songs at all-ages shows at venues throughout Columbus.

While Demerus continued to develop new skills, he began teaching other teens about music production as a paid intern for the YouMedia summer program. His confidence and talent grew, and his grades improved. Demerus was hired for secondary jobs at The Ohio State University and at a retirement home. And he published his first CD and launched a website.

During the summer of 2015, he edited the SURGE Listens CD highlighting songs and spoken word pieces from teen musicians within the Columbus network. He also served as emcee for the SURGE Listens event.

Now completing his first year of college at The Ohio State University Newark, Demerus is studying marketing and music enterprise.

Demerus image

A student plays the guitar at Driving Park

Demerus’ story is one example of the innovative learning and growth opportunities CML provides to thousands of teens throughout central Ohio. As part of CML’s Young Minds strategy focused on high school graduation, efforts like YouMedia focus on helping teens build a foundation for a successful life.

“Our services for teens focus on education, support, positive identity and relationships and provide a holistic approach to helping teens work through school and life,” says Young Minds Program Leader Rochelle Lemaster.

The YouMedia program supports these areas by providing mentors who coach, listen to and teach teens. Through the program, teens learn digital art, music production, filmmaking, video game design and other 21st century learning skills. Through the SURGE network — a partnership that includes COSI, WEX, Transit Arts, Columbus Museum of Art and WOSU — students can learn 3-D modeling, art, dance and more.


CML launched YouMedia in 2013 with the intent of adding a higher impact service to the library’s existing Teen Services lineup that included the VolunTeen program, Homework Help Centers, College and Career programs, College and Career Fairs, Teen Book Clubs and Book Talks.

“Adding YouMedia allowed us to have one-on-one support and interaction with teens,” Lemaster says. “CML’s Teen Mentors provide individualized service and coaching based on what a teen needs. The program offers a teen a connected, caring adult who can help them identify their skills and talents and develop those into something they can later use in a job or college major.”

Today, more than 50 percent of jobs require some level of technological skill. By 2020, the number of tech jobs is expected to increase 20-30 percent. Through YouMedia, CML is ensuring that participants are well prepared to enter the workforce with skills they can’t get in school.

Teen Mentors Brandi Cunningham and Lewis helped create YouMedia at CML, a program loosely based on a similar initiative in Chicago. Through hanging out, messing around and geeking out — the HOMAGO philosophy — teens use technology to “hang out,” seek information online and “mess around” by experimenting with media, and “geek out” by diving deep into a specialized area of knowledge or interest.

This year, CML’s YouMedia lab programs have focused on storytelling. Teens are creating stories — in song, dance, art, writing, illustration and film — and will share their work August 12 at “Surge Tells,” a collaborative exhibition sponsored by CML and its SURGE partners. The event will be held at Transit Arts. At Driving Park, YouMedia participants have also had the opportunity to collaborate on a mural with artist Corrie Slawson.

Together, they have created lithograph prints that will be part of the finished work that will be permanently exhibited at the branch.


LEFT: At Driving Park, artist Corrie Slawson teaches YouMedia participants the art of lithography. The teens used their own photography to create the printed images. Their work will be part of a mural Slawson is creating. RIGHT: Slawson incorporates stenciling, airbrushing, silk screening and hand painting in a mural, created in collaboration with teens in the YouMedia program.

When Main Library opens on June 25, its YouMedia lab will also reopen, bringing the number of YouMedia labs in the system to three: Main, Driving Park and Whitehall. During the 2015-2016 school year, the YouMedia program at Driving Park and Whitehall has served 197 students, had 4,190 sessions and a 74 percent return rate of students.

Lemaster says a goal for YouMedia is repeat visits by students. “We have fewer students coming many times,” she says. “It takes practice to learn a new skill, and these teens are learning things like dedication, follow through, persistence, troubleshooting, and all the things they will need to be successful just by showing up every day or every week.”

The key to YouMedia’s success is keeping things approachable and flexible, Lewis says. The program allows students to choose things that interest them and offers programs and apps for all skill levels, from beginner to expert.

“We let them learn by doing, and have fun while they’re learning,” Lewis says. “If I was a kid, I would love YouMedia—I’d go crazy for it.”

Window drawing

YouMedia participants use natural light at Whitehall to help them as they work on illustrations

“Kids drive the bus here,” Cunningham says. “No matter what their interest is — whether it’s digital art, music production, filmmaking or video game design — if they want to take the next step, we’re here to help them make it happen.”

For Cunningham, the program’s most important benefit is the opportunity it offers teens to experiment and learn alongside a dedicated mentor. “Kids need to build relationships,” Cunningham says. “They need to be able to count on someone and have consistency. Having an extra adult in their lives makes a difference.”

VolunTeens……TABs….Teen Book Talks

In addition to YouMedia, CML’s Teen Services lineup offers the following programs that are helping students prepare for school and life:

 The VolunTeen program offers a year-round volunteer experience for teens ages 12-17. Teens learn skills and responsibility while providing valuable support to staff, especially during the summer, when some 1,200 teens take advantage of this first-job experience. Other roles include working with younger children in the Homework Help Centers and as Reading Buddies, and assisting with programs and activities in the branches.

 For 2016, CML is introducing a developmental opportunity for teens that will allow them to use some of their volunteer hours at a branch to research colleges, careers and subjects they are passionate about. With the aid of staff, teens will participate in power lunches and conflict resolution classes, and have access to mentors who can offer guidance on choices about high school, college and beyond.

— CML’s afterschool Homework Help Centers benefit thousands of area K-12 students. This year, CML introduced college student volunteers to help younger students recognize that attending college is a goal they can achieve. Giving students something to strive for strengthens CML’s Young Minds goals and helps students understand that perseverance can lead to success. Both the Franklinton and Livingston branches have excelled at setting group goals for students and helping them achieve goals as a team.

 All branches are required to offer a college or career program each quarter in order to support CML’s High School Graduation Focus. With assistance from outside partners like colleges and community organizations, students learn about options they have for future careers and education and who to talk to when they’re ready to make these choices. Many branches offer career and college fairs that allow students to browse tables and learn about a variety of options. Both the South High and Martin Luther King branches have had successful fairs with more than 70 attendees.

 Many branches have book clubs or Teen Advisory Board groups (TAB) that enable teens to connect with both peers and library staff. The monthly or bi-weekly meetings include discussion of books and brainstorming about new programs and help solidify the role of teens in the library. CML’s Gahanna and New Albany locations have well-established TAB groups that are highly involved in branch activities.

 Book talks offer another way for teens to connect at a branch or at a school through conversation. The talks offer support for teens and use books as a door to larger conversations. Every year, the library hosts a visiting author, funded by the Friends of the Library and chosen with teen readers in mind. With visits and lectures in several branches, teens have an opportunity to interact with writers whose books they know and love.

Whether creating music and art, discussing books, volunteering, or exploring career opportunities, teens have a home at CML where they are learning the importance of building relationships, being part of community and giving back.