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Library gets teen input for programs

CONYERS -- Adults who think they can't understand teenagers may take pointers from Lauren Knowlton, the youth services librarian at Nancy Guinn Memorial Library in Conyers. In developing activities for teens at the library, Knowlton said all she does is ask.

The library started an anime club this month, where those interested in the Japanese animation can watch movies and talk about what they like and dislike about the art form.

Knowlton began working on new programs to lead up to moving into the new space for teenagers in the recently renovated and expanded second floor of the library. She said the idea for the library's anime club came when she talked to teens during Teen Read Week.

"I knew we have a lot of interest in anime and manga, so I knew we could start that up and have a good turnout for that," she said. "Beyond that, I want to see about possibly having book discussion groups; hit on some hot books that some of the teens like and go in that direction."

Knowlton quickly added that the teen programs are just starting and she expressed what many frustrated parents feel at times. "I'm still feeling my way. It's hard to get a strong opinion straight from the teens' mouth on what they want to see at the library."

Knowlton registered the library's anime club with a distributor used by other libraries that allows teens to pick DVD anime movies once a month for viewing parties. The library gets to keep the DVD for its collection in exchange for feedback from the teens.

Anime, which is simply animation produced in Japan, is very popular among teens and young adults in the United States and other countries. The stories cover everything -- action, romance, comedy, drama -- that many are drawn to.

One popular anime series, "Naruto," tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, an adolescent ninja who constantly searches for recognition and aspires to become a Hokage, the ninja in his village that is acknowledged as the leader and the strongest of all, according to Naruto's official Web site.

The movies will be geared toward teens, ages 13 to 17 years old, and the viewing will be on a Friday after the library closes, from 5 to 7 p.m.

The club had its first viewing Friday and watched an anime called, "Save Me: Lollipop!" which Knowlton described as a light romance comedy.

The anime club came from suggestions by the library's Teen Advisory Group. The teens help out on planning scheduled events, like Teen Read Week, and Knowlton said she wants to tap into them more to see what the library can offer them.

Also, Knowlton said if all goes well she hoped the teens will take ownership of their space at the library by allowing them to come up with a name for the teen area. Any name proposed would have to be presented to the library Board of Trustees, but that would be up to the teens, Knowlton said.

"There's nothing formal right yet," she said. "It's more like I'm trying to get a feel for what the teens want; what they would like to see at the library."

For more information on activities for youngsters and teens, call the Youth Services desk at 770-388-5041, or contact Knowlton by e-mail at lknowlton@conyersrockdalelibrary.org.