The Columbus-Lowndes Public Library works to meet the needs of all patrons — including teenagers — and library employees David Brasher and Erin Stringer have set up an area in the library designed for this group.
Appropriately enough, it has been dubbed the Teen Lounge. As patrons enter the library and look to their left, along with the usual computers and shelves filled with books, they will see an area with large television screens, booths and tables and chairs, artwork, as well as books and magazines catering to the teen set.
Brasher, the library”s technical coordinator, said the lounge has been in since mid-November.
The library obtained a grant through the Mississippi Library Commission to assist them in getting equipment to furnish the Teen Lounge, including computers and games, said Stringer, the library”s youth service coordinator.
“When we got the grant, we thought this would be a great opportunity for us to do something for our teenage patrons,” Stringer said.
Brasher said even though it is known as the Teen Lounge, some adult patrons frequent the spot as well.
“They will play the Wii and Xbox games, to learn how they work, to see if they are something they want to get for their child,” he said.
As technical coordinator, Brasher said his work entails helping people with questions about how computers work. Brasher has been employed with the library for more than three years.
“This is not my first experience with computers; I spent almost seven years working with the city of West Point as a network operations system technician,” he said.
Brasher is a West Point native, and a graduate of Oak Hill Academy in West Point and Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, where he received a degree in management and information systems.
As youth services coordinator, Stringer”s work involves planning different programs at the library geared to young people, including the summer reading program.
A Kosciusko native, Stringer is a graduate of Kosciusko High School and attended Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor”s degree in psychology.
She is currently taking online courses through the University of Southern Mississippi, seeking a master”s degree in library science. She is scheduled to complete degree requirements next year.
This is not the first time Stringer has worked in a library setting.
“I began working at the library in Kosciusko when I was a teenager,” she said.
Stringer and her husband Zac have a dog named Petey.
Brasher and Stringer both said they enjoy working with people. “Networking with the public about computers is something I really like about my job, and being able to help them when needed,” Brasher said.
“Being able to help the patrons find the materials they need is a rewarding part of my job,” Stringer said.
Brasher and Stringer have set rules and guidelines at the Teen Lounge. One is to respect yourself — no use of profanity; respect others — no fighting; respect the material in the library — treat it as if it is your own, and respect the space.
“This is your room at the library; let”s keep it awesome. If these rules and regulations are not followed, they will be asked to leave the lounge,” Stringer said.
How long has the Teen Lounge been in place, and what is its purpose?
Stringer: After we got the Library Services Technical Act grant, which was sponsored by the Mississippi Library Commission, we began planning to get equipment we needed. The Friends of the Library also helped. We got the grant in July and started ordering equipment in August and set up in November. The reason for the lounge is we want teens to come to our library. We want to show them we have cool things for them.
Brasher: We set up everything Nov. 15, a Saturday. It was National Gaming in the Library Day. We just want to offer programs to fill the gap between children and adults. We felt there was a need for teens. We want to say them, ”Hey, come and play our games.”
What are some of the things offered in the Teen Lounge?
Stringer: We have novels for teens and are working to get the books in the “Twilight” series. In January, we are planning to have a teen gaming night for those age 13-19. We also encourage those who are interested in art to submit their drawings.
Brasher: We want to be more tech-savvy with our programs, with the Xbox and Wii, but we also encourage them to read books. Many of the games they are playing are based on books.
How has the response been so far?
Stringer: It has been interesting so far. The adults are pleased to know we have a place for teens.
Brasher: This is an area, I think, as a place for people who are interested in the same things to come and meet. It has been interesting and positive.
When is the Teen Lounge open?
Stringer: It is open Monday-Thursday. From 9 a.m.-1 p.m., it is free play time as adults are invited to play the games. From 2-6 p.m., it is teen time for ages 13-19 only.
Brasher: On Fridays and Saturdays, the lounge hours will vary. For those wanting more information about the Friday and Saturday hours, they can call the library at 662-329-5300.
Allen Baswell was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.