Bath library celebrates new space for teens

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BATH — Patten Free Library’s teen space once consisted of a small, oblong-shaped corner, afforded half a wall of privacy by a stack of nonfiction books.

But after a year of planning, fundraising and construction, the library has a new, attractive room to offer its younger patrons, equipped with print and media collections, a widescreen LG monitor/TV and plenty of electrical outlets, and a spiral staircase that winds up into an area dubbed the Pilot House, a nod to Bath’s nautical heritage.

The 33 Summer St. institution will host a celebration for donors, staff and trustees for the new room, as well as its renovated reference area, at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19. A series of events geared toward the public kicks off next week.

Patten had already raised $215,000 toward the project, thanks in part to grants and pledges from its board of directors when it opened its funding campaign to the public in September 2017.

The library exceeded its $332,000 goal by about $8,000, thanks largely to a last-minute $10,000 Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation grant. Because some unplanned-for expenses caused the total project cost to surpass its budget, the extra funds came in handy. A final total for the project has yet to be tallied, according to Samantha Ricker, Patten’s development director.

The approximately 450-square-foot new room is not an addition to the building, but an enclosure and renovation of an existing space within the nonfiction section, across from the original teen area. Unlike the single electrical outlet of the former space, the new, air-conditioned hangout features multiple plugs, tables and chairs to facilitate learning, programming and socializing.

The monitor/TV can be used for instructional and entertainment purposes alike, Ricker said.

Romance and science fiction stacks were shifted out of the way to make room, Ricker said Tuesday during a tour of the new space alongside Roberta Jordan, Patten’s outreach and instruction librarian. Construction of the new room began in June.

Development of an active teen community within the library’s walls has been a goal at Patten since a strategic plan was adopted in 2012. A Teen Library Council formed with four members in 2013, and now has 14 youths involved.

The old room “really only (sat) a handful of kids, with their backpacks and everything,” Ricker said.

“As we tried to build teen programming, and got more and more kids in here, it just got louder and louder,” Jordan noted. “And we realized that was just not going to work, to try to keep them in here if we really wanted to grow our programs.”

Having teens in their own room will cut down on noise throughout the rest of the building, and the largely windowed walls will allow staff to keep an eye on what’s going on inside. Some privacy is important to the youth, Jordan said, “because when every conversation that you have is heard by everybody in the nonfiction stacks, it’s not really conducive” to shared usage.

‘”In the new space there’s a beautiful screen, there are all kinds of plugs everywhere for people to charge and plug in their devices,” Ricker said. “We definitely adapted to make it a little more tech-friendly.”

The former teen space will for now serve as a casual reading area, and other collections might be shifted there in the future.

Jordan said the youths are gratified to finally have a suitable space to themselves. Ricker’s freshman son had texted her that morning to say he’d be swinging by the teen room after school and bringing his friends.

“They’re ready for this,” she said. “I think this space will speak to what they do now, too. I’d rather they hang out here.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Samantha Ricker, Patten Free Library’s development director, left, and Roberta Jordan, outreach and instruction librarian, show off the Bath library’s new teen space, which includes a spiral staircase leading to the “Pilot House.” 

The new teen room at Patten Free Library in Bath replaces a cramped area in another corner of the library and includes a large TV, multiple outlets and more privacy. 

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The public is welcome to a series of continued celebratory events at Patten Free Library in Bath, starting Tuesday, Oct. 23. A community weave project by Halcyon Yarn will run all week, and visitors of all ages are welcome to work the loom.

Also on Tuesday, from 3-6 p.m., will be a “special draft event” for youth players of Magic: The Gathering. Drone pilot Dayne Dennett will chat about quadcopter basics, show how to pilot one, and shoot aerial “selfies” by air of people in Library Park on Wednesday from 3-4:30 p.m.

Now You’re Cooking owner Mike Fear will have teens help make sweet crepes and flavored popcorn from 3-4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Halcyon Yarn staff on Friday will show how to create fuzzy pom-pom charms to clip on a backpack, from 3-4:30 p.m.

Contact Roberta Jordan, Patten’s outreach and instruction librarian, for more details at 443-5141, ext. 25, or rjordan@patten.lib.me.us.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.