Uniondale is a culturally diverse suburban community of over 30,000 residents located in central Nassau County, New York. Our population includes African Americans, Haitians, Hispanics, and Caucasians. We are a special district public library located within a mile of Uniondale High School. Our building is situated on a main street with local shops, a park, and surrounded by a residential area. We are also just down the road from Hofstra University and Nassau Community College. As a result, the Library sees a tremendous amount of foot traffic.
In 2012, the Library Board of Trustees, with community input, recognized the need for two additional services at the Library – an expanded Teen Space and a café. With the help of a New York State Department of Education construction grant and local taxpayer support, the new Teen Space and café were soon to become a reality. With the assistance of architects, the layout and design of the new Teen Space began to take shape.
One of the challenges of this project was to carve out a space large enough for the teens within the Library’s existing structure. The answer was to consolidate and relocate the Library’s audio visual section and move existing furniture to accommodate the new area. This solution more than doubled the square footage of the original space designated for teens. The architects also designed the space with half walls and a suspended acoustical baffle system to absorb noise. Construction of the new Teen Space and café began in late 2013.
Prior to our new Teen Space, the original young adult area was a small L-shaped open space off the Children’s Room. As a result of not having a truly dedicated area, there was an issue with adult patrons using the already limited space. This situation led to teens not feeling as though they could be “teens”.
With an eye towards embracing the teen population, the Library now had a plan. We wanted to provide a safe and positive environment for teens where they could study, participate in activities and socialize. Technology also played a role in the space. Teens would have access to ThinkPads, iPads and MacBooks. A wall-mounted flat screen television was also part of the plan to enhance the teen user experience. Our Teen Services Librarian enlisted the assistance of our Junior Friends of the Library in selecting the furniture for the space. The teens chose a combination of high and low bistro tables and lounge style seating. The furniture and the some of the shelving in the Teen Space are movable to accommodate programs.
The new Teen Space had its grand opening celebration in October 2014. Many local politicians and school officials joined Uniondale residents at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Our new Teen Space has been a great success. More teens than ever are using the space and the positive impact has been immeasurable.