By Karen Hutchinson-Talaski
HERMISTON Sixteen teens were let loose on the bookstores of the Tri-Cities last Saturday to find the latest in books, DVDs and CDs which might tickle the fancy of their peers during the Hermiston Public Library Teen Council Mall Crawl.
Library director Marie Baldo has it all down to a science preprinted forms in presentation folders and pens ready for the 12 girls and four boys to write down their picks. The council has $1,000 to spend on materials for the library.
The first stop was to Hastings Book Store in Kennewick. After the Hastings manager discovered why she was suddenly overrun with teenagers, the panic subsided and the teens got down to the business at hand.
Some of them headed towards the books, while others were intent on finding CDs or DVDs. Edith Aguilar, an eighth grader on the Teen Council, spent most of her time in the mystery section of the store. She loves to read mysteries, comedies and, sometimes, romance novels. Edith says being part of the Teen Council is fun.
"We get to make activities for kids and for ourselves," she explained. "It's a really fun thing."
Being on the Teen Council looks good on her resume, says Edith, plus it gives her and her peers the opportunity to find books that teens like.
"Now that we choose what we like, we have more books and music that we like," Edith said.
The next stop on the journey was to Barnes and Noble, where, besides searching for materials for the library, several of the teens bought books for themselves and then headed to Old Country Buffet for lunch.
Edith says Baldo trusts the Teen Council to make good decisions about choosing books she says because the librarian trusts them, it teaches the teens responsibility.
Dalila Avila, another eighth grader on the council, says making decisions about the types of materials available for teens at the library is important.
"We make the library a teen-friendly place," she said.
Jessica Grimes is the president of the council and has been on the council since it started three years ago. A tenth grader, Jessica feels the activities the library offers for teens is a good thing.
"We get to have fun with friends, looking for books for kids our age," Jessica said.
A.J. Yzaguirre, also a tenth grader, is the vice president of the council. He is also a charter member. A.J. says being part of the council and having a say in what types of materials are available to teens is a way to encourage teenagers and young adults to use the library.
"The library isn't a popular place with young people around today," A.J. explained. "To create a more well-rounded experience, one way is to help pick out materials that would interest the teenage crowd and bring them to the library."
The Teen Council doesn't just pick out materials they hold dances and do other activities. Baldo is planning a lock-down night soon where the teens who attend give up their cell phones, MP3 players and video games to spend the evening playing games and having fun.
Last year, Baldo says, the teens chose over $3,000 worth of books, DVDs and CDs for the library. It was difficult to edit the list to a more manageable size. She orders the materials through her library sources to bring down the cost and allow for more books and other materials to be purchased.
Hermiston's Teen Council is unique in eastern Oregon, Baldo says.
"I think we are the only one in eastern Oregon," Baldo said. "Usually, bigger libraries have councils."
Any teen in sixth to twelfth grade is invited to join the Teen Council. For more information, call 567-2882 or visit the library.
Karen Hutchinson-Talaski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.