The second floor east side mezzanine in the Homewood Public Library will soon become a dedicated space for teens thanks to a generous $52,000 gift from the Friends of the Homewood Library.
The space will be known as FORT for Friends of Remarkable Teens. It will give 12- to 18-year-olds a dedicated space away from the daily operations of the library. It is designed to give teens a place in which to spend time learning, reading, studying, talking and watching television or playing video games.
The library’s teen-oriented collection will be moved to the space. Computers and iPads, a music listening station, a DIY project table and gaming area are included in the plans, said Library Director Amy Crump.
“We are thrilled to get this gift,” she said. A dedicated space will encourage the teens to feel comfortable using the library’s resources in a welcoming environment where they can be themselves. Specialty glass panels will wall in the space and act as sound barriers reducing most noise, she noted. Some work to the heating/cooling system will be done in preparation for the build-out. Crump expects the space to be ready by early summer.
Crump said the FORT will be proportional to the walled off area already on the second floor’s north side which is divided into an office for the Friends, study rooms and a meeting room.
Rose Olsar, secretary of the Friends of the Homewood Library, said the group’s members were unanimous in their support of the FORT project.
“Years ago we had formed the Junior Friends of the Homewood Library thinking it would be nice for preteens to give service to the library, the community and to the
Friends. Now those Junior Friends are entering their teenage years, so the Friends group all thought this was a great idea,” Olsar explained.
Thanks to book donations that are sold at the weekly book sale, the Friends of the Homewood Library has a “substantial amount” in its bank account, Olsar said, and will consider future requests for additional off-budget improvements at the library.
She estimated that since 1950 the Friends have raised more than $600,000 for the library. In 1990, Olsar, then president of the Friends, said her group wanted to earn more money for the library and hosted the first book sale.
“There were four of us at the time working on it, so it was a huge project,” she remembers. “We were asking for donations from the community and they were very cooperative and happy to help us.”
That first book sale raised $2,000 and was used to purchase the piano that’s housed in the meeting room. The Friends have made other donations over the years, but none as substantial an amount as the FORT project.
Each day Friends volunteers sort and price the donated materials that are dropped off in a bin in the library lobby to get them ready for the next book sale. Books and other materials are available on the mezzanine level for sale during the week on the honor system, but the Saturday book sales from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. include specialty materials and more expensive books.
The Saturday sales include sheet music, records, albums, magazines, books on tape, books on CD, DVDs, movie and music cassettes, reference books, text books, children’s books, and books that are placed in categories of romance, mystery, sci-fi, nonfiction, fiction and classics.
“It’s just a wonderful feeling to recycle books,” Olsar said, “especially those taken out of the library when the collection is thinned, and those books that come from the community. To recycle books back to the community and let them be enjoyed over and over again—that really makes it worthwhile for us.”