WASHINGTON — For Grahan and Kate Flannery, coming to the library is tradition and deciding to join the Teen Advisory Board (TAB) is another.
Jenisa Harris, Youth Librarian at the Washington Public Library, said last year TAB did not have any members but this year has seen that number rise to 15. The board is responsible for creating youth events and activities.
Grahan, whose older brother inspired her to get involved, said the activities are generally not library related, just held in the library. In October, the group held a Teen Fear Factor event and are planning Cupcake Wars and Recycled Runway events where they will make a garment out of book pages.
Flannery, the youngest of the Flannery siblings to join, said being in TAB allows the freedom to work as a team to plan activities they might all enjoy. She said there are plenty of places for youth to get together, like school, but have the responsibility and freedom to think outside the box is what she likes best.
“With TAB you get to plan it but at school you don’t know what the activity will be and you might not like it,” she said.
Her older brother John Flannery is a senior at Washington High School and in his last year on TAB. He said he began in seventh grade and has continued to support and be part of the program because he feels the library was made for bringing people together.
“Part of it has been tradition but the other part has just been fun working at the library. I still remember coming to the grand opening of the library so many years ago and with the forming of TAB, it’s just awesome to keep up all these events and keep the legacy going with the original intent the library was created for,” he said.
Harris said the program has been running for about 10 years and is back in full swing this year. She said she was excited about the big turnout this year after having no one last year.
She said TAB is all about building relationships with the members and giving them an outlet to express their ideas and to have fun. Harris said teens are often underserved in the community and by having a place where they can all come together to focus on something else beside the stressors of school.
“Kids are future leaders so if we’re giving them these life skills now, think about what they can do as adults. If they grow up loving the library, there’s a really high chance they’re going to bring their kids in to love the library. That legacy keeps on going so I think it’s really important as adults to encourage it and also lead by example,” she said.