HomeWoodStock: Part high school reunion, part flash mob

Mary Wegrzyn, young adult librarian, suggests a book for
a FORT patron.
(Photo by Marilyn Thomas/HF Chronicle)

The doors of FORT, the Homewood Public Library’s specially created young adult space, will officially swing open on Wednesday, July 1.

“I am very excited and ready for our opening,” said Mary Wegrzyn, young adult librarian. The newly created area, nearly half of the east balcony that had been open for general use on the library’s second floor, was made possible with a gift from the Friends of the Homewood Library. 

Books for the 12- to 19-year-old readers have been picked from the regular collection and moved to the FORT. Furniture is in place. A few game consoles and a listening station will be available. A big screen TV will make it easy to show movies.

“I want them to be able to come to a spot where they can feel comfortable and enjoy being with their friends. This is a space that is geared for them,” Wegrzyn said. “It’s a space where they can study or socialize and just feel comfortable without having to worry about bothering other patrons.”

Friends is included in the name FORT — Friends of Remarkable Teens — as a way to give recognition for the Friends of the Homewood Library’s $52,000 donation for the project. The official Friends ribbon-cutting dedication of FORT will be Aug. 19.

The group’s generosity meant a project that was on the library board’s long-range plan became a priority. The tremendous amount of work to make certain the electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning would work properly, as well as the glass wall panels that make it a space, were all paid through the financial support of the Friends. 

Before the FORT was designed, young adult programming was limited to a space on the first floor. Once a week Wegrzyn organized Wacky Wednesdays in the library’s meeting room giving the junior high and high school students a chance to socialize, play Nintendo Wii and board games and enjoy snacks.

Wegrzyn said the library is becoming “a mini community center for the teens. They are trying to find a space where they can go after school and kind of hang out and feel comfortable.  

“It’s not so much ‘I’m going to the library to study and do my report.’ They can do a lot of that on the Internet or they don’t need those reference materials we used to need,” she explained. “Now they’re looking for a place. They say ‘Let’s go down to the library and play that cool game or sit around.’“

FORT will have a DIY (do-it-yourself) table so the teens can do simple crafts. 

Wegrzyn will have two iPADS and an older model PlayStation gaming system will be available. She would like to update the gaming system, but that will take another donation.

While the FORT has options other than books, Wegrzyn said reading still is the priority. She stays attune to what teens are interested in. She selects new materials after reading various book reviews and she knows what books teens are asking for and checking out most often. Current popular selections include the Hunger Games, Maze Runner and Michael Vey series and books by author John Greene.

“Any programs that I have, I put books out that relate to them (the programs’ theme). I look for any way that I can to get them to read,” she added.
Contact Marilyn Thomas at [email protected]

FORT while still under construction in mid-May. 
(Photo by Eric Crump/HF Chronicle)


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